It is said that after they die, the dead go to the train station to wait for a train.
Which one? Where are they going? How long will they wait?
The next one. Away. As long as it takes.
How will they know it's the right one?
They won't. It doesn't matter.
Why? Why don't they just go to sleep, or become birds?
They want to travel among us. They are afraid of arriving. They prefer to travel.
The smoothness of the ride, the sound of the horn.
What do they do when the train arrives?
Board it, get a seat by the window, wait for children to wave to.
When will they get off the train?
When there are no more children to wave to.
Really? They never get off?
As the train pulls into the station, the dead, all of them, rise from their seats and look out the windows and doorways, they drag their luggage down the aisle and peer out the doorways to see if anyone is waiting for them. If so, they disembark and disappear into the crowd; if not, they lug their bags back down the aisle and find a new seat, for invariably, someone has taken their old seat.
Don't they get bored?
They long for the landscape, read books or play solitaire.
First class too?
How can they afford the tickets?
They bribe the conductor, tell him it's a matter of life and death.
Why does the conductor believe them?
They have tragic smiles.
Can I talk to one of them?
You won't hear their voices above the sound of the train wheels. You can wave. If they see you, they will always wave back.
Daniel Hudon, originally from Canada, teaches writing, math, physics and astronomy in Boston. He has published a chapbook, Evidence for Rainfall (Pen and Anvil Press), a popular nonfiction book, The Bluffer’s Guide to the Cosmos (Oval Books) and has a travel manuscript, Traveling into Now, that is looking for a home. He blogs about environmental topics at econowblog.blogspot.com and some of his writing links can be found at people.bu.edu/hudon.