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Misty Departure by Robert Bailey

The city lay dark and silent under the muffling blanket of January snow. Flakes swirled and danced in their countless millions, sparkling underneath the amber glow of street lamps, finally ending their long descent by clinging to roofs, fences, roads and fields. Vehicles plowed sluggishly through the rutted streets, and only the odd warmly clad figure could be seen hurrying home, perhaps to a hot drink with their Sunday evening supper. 1954 had been a particularly bad winter for the east coast of England, but the trains through Yarmouths Longport railway station were still running on time. Passengers sat huddled on wood benches inside the typically spartan British Railways waiting room, warming hands against the meagre gas fire and conversing in low tones. The stationmaster, a portly, aged fellow who had spent most of his life on the railway, stepped onto the wind-swept platform, deftly removed his watch from a vest pocket and compared it to the large clock overhead. It was getting on to 8 oclock and the Queen of Scots would be due in a few minutes. With a practiced hand he lit his tarnished oil lamp and swinging it as he walked, made his way acrossthe rail lines to the fence that bordered the road. Directing its beam to the rails, he grunted with satisfaction and moved on. Approaching the arches of the old Victorian Dimsdale Bridge, he was momentarily blinded by the headlights of a car he recognized as an antiquated Rolls Royce. Throwing spray to either side, it pulled off and parked beside the station fence, immediately disgorging five occupants, who immediately began an animated conversation. There were three women, one of whom appeared to be in her teens. She stalked away from the group, kicking up the snow. One of the other women had taken out a handkerchief and began to sob uncontrollably. "I just dont want to say goodbye, Stephen," she cried. The taller of the two men, a gaunt looking figure wearing a Fedora and clutching a suitcase, looked away down the road, his expression twisting in pain. "Belinda, please...you must understand that its Gods work I must do first. Ill be back for you." "Two years is a long time," she responded, her voice blurred with emotion. "Stephen, Im asking you to reconsider," said the third woman, a tall blonde. "There are hospitals here, people who just as dearly need your surgeons skills." "You must understand," Stephen replied. "Where Im going, they dont even have the basics of life. I must go where Im called." "Well, Im calling you," the young woman answered, throwing her arms around him. He dropped his suitcase and embraced her tenderly. They clung to each other and she saw the anguish in his expression. "Dont do this," her eyes pleaded. But then she could not suppress a shudder as she noticed a shadow pass briefly across his face, and she knew he was resolute. Slowly and gently he withdrew, and picking up his suitcase, strode quickly to the end of the fence, crossed the rail line and ascended the platform. Just at that moment, the sounds of an approaching locomotive could be heard, and within seconds steamed into view through the swirling snow flurries on the other side of the arched bridge. The stationmaster, meanwhile, had moved off down the line. As the train pulled into the station with a clattering of iron and bellowing of steam, he looked up at the passengers sitting in the compartments, reading newspapers or peering through the windows. The little group beside the car had fallen silent. The teenage girl still stood beside the road, looking on as the taller woman took out her handkerchief and wiped a tear away. The driver was leaning on the Rolls, seemingly forlorn. Belinda had gripped the top of the fence, her head bowed in defeat. The gaunt man with the suitcase had paused, facing them across the track. He lifted a hand in silent farewell. " Wait!" called Belinda, looking up, her whole body shaking. "Wait! Stephen!" From where he was standing, peering through the clouds of smoke and steam, Stephen could barely see her waving at him. It wasnt as if he was leaving his own family behind. It was Belindas family, after all. He had asked her to marry him, and marry her he would, if she saw fit to wait for him. It would be a trial for them both. He would be in the tropics of Africa, but hed be thinking of her. If her love for him was not true, she would find another man, and then he would know the truth. He turned to go. " Wait! I love you! I want you to know Ill wait!" Belinda shouted to him, her voice lost in a sudden burst of pressurized steam from the locomotive. Her taller companion waved her handkerchief in desperation, but Stephens form wavered and disappeared amidst the backlit clouds of vapor. Then he was gone. Belinda turned suddenly with her back to the fence and buried her face in her hands. " Maybe its best this way," said the driver kindly. "At least, for now." The two women clung to each other and with a giant gasp, the train began to slowly pull away. Stephen was at the carriage window, but they could not see the tear spring to his eye, nor see the slight trembling of his lip as the train pulled them farther and farther apart. As the rear lights of the carriages disappeared into the mist, the old stationmaster ascended the platform, glanced at the clock and watched as the Rolls reversed out into the road and slowly moved away, leaving only its tire tracks and a little cluster of footprints to mark where it had been. The snow continued falling, and in a little while, even these fleeting impressions had disappeared, just as utterly as if they had never existed. -Written by Robert Bailey
  • 500 Limited Edition ....
  • 50 Artists Proofs .....
  • 50 Special Edition .....
  • Issued 1998
This piece can be purchased as...

  $150.00 - Limited Edition Print



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