Prose Selections

Angel on the Tracks

By Lois Richardson

The sound of a gunshot jolted me. My blood ran cold. Was I imagining things? Another shot rang through the clammy atmosphere. I froze. Grimy streetlights cast an eerie glow across a web of train tracks. Alone in a high crime area my nerves were shattered. How could an innocent visit with family, turn into such an unforeseen early morning drama. It was the mid 1950’s. I was 20 years old.

§§

The commuter train clanked down the tracks on my way back to the city. The conductor called out stops as he walked down the aisle. Passengers exited at their destinations.

A resident of this city for a short time, I lost my bearing as we blurred past buildings and entered an unfamiliar area. I realized too late that my stop was behind me.

The conductor was a cranky old fellow but I excused him, thinking he’d had a bad day. His bad day soon turned into my nightmare.

“Why didn’t you call my stop?” I asked.

“I did. You weren’t listening.”

“I was listening. You didn’t call it!”

The same accusation echoed by other passengers in the car, only made him angrier.

“I’ll ride to the end of the line, then back to The Loop so I can catch a cab in a familiar area.”

Silence. A scowl. He gave no hint that I couldn’t do this.

“This is the end of the line,” he barked.

With my derriere and feet firmly planted, I stared at him with a look that said, “I dare you to move me off of this train.”

“THIS IS THE END OF THE LINE.” . . .

Validation for Vengeance

By Lois Richardson

The dreary spring night brought loneliness and a chill to little Madge as she waited for someone, someone. The glow from the kerosene lamp provided no warmth or cheer for her.

The only thing that she’d been told was that Mama had gone to heaven and she now had a baby brother.

Child birth in the early years of the twentieth century was precarious for both mother and child.

Madge sat in the rocker hugging her only doll. Mama, with loving heart and hands, had fashioned this doll for her little girl just a year ago for her second birthday. Rocking and humming brought the only consolation to Madge while baby brother was being given abundant attention.

Where was Papa on this confusing and upsetting day? He always hugged her tight and his love dried away her tears.

§§

Papa! Papa! Where are you? Madge cried.

She awakened to tears stinging her eyes, bathing her pillow in salty brine. The dream seemed to play in her mind like an endless tragic drama, with heartache waiting in the wings of each scene. The dream left Madge drained this morning as it did each time she awoke from disturbing revelations of her past. . ..