Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Last Train

She took the last train to Clarksville.  As the crowded car drew her closer to the man she loved, Eleanor caressed the old camera he had given her last year. When Jeremy had left for basic training, her heart felt his absence keenly.  There were daily reminders of him everywhere, from the many pictures of the two of them on her dresser to the smell of the feedlot where he'd worked.  Was there any place for her in his life now, or was this a trip to heartbreak? 

Six weeks apart was a long time, and Eleanor wondered if he still resembled the lean eighteen year old boy who left her crying on the front porch.  As the train rolled into the Clarksville station, she stared into the crowd, searching for his face.

Jeremy was waiting for her next to the exit, the set of his shoulders a beacon in a sea of people. Eleanor couldn't help herself; she dropped her bag and threw herself into his arms.  The camera swung around and hit his back. Jeremy laughed and hugged her back. He pulled back to look at her.

"Hello to you too," he smiled, wiping a tear from her cheek. He lifted her chin and kissed her hard, pulling her hands into his and clasping them to his chest. When he pulled away, Eleanor found a tiny diamond sparkling on the ring finger of her left hand.  Her heart hammered in her chest, the sound resounding throughout her body.

"Oh yes! Yes!" Eleanor didn't want to cry, but the tears poured from her eyes anyway.  She made a fist of her left hand, fiercely guarding her ring.

"I have a car waiting to take us to the chapel right now.  The chaplain said if we hurry, he'll marry us today," Jeremy had her bag in his hand and was already walking her toward the street, the sound of the terminal dimming behind them.

"What?" Eleanor stopped. "Why so soon, Jeremy? I wanted our parents to see us marry."

"Eleanor," Jeremy took her face in his hands. "I am shipping out tomorrow.  I'll be in Viet Nam before the week is out."  He held his breath. She held the whole of his world within her.

Eleanor stared at him a moment. He was her whole world, and he would be leaving her again.  She wanted this part of him, to have and hold in the days to come.

"Well then," her chin lifted.  "We will just have to take lots of pictures."

“When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
~Ansel Adams
Image courtesy of Unsplash.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.

I was listening to the Monkee's "Last Train to Clarksville", and I started feeling extremely sorry for that guy, sitting at a train station, about to ship off to a place where he would probably not return from. I wanted to give him a little happiness.  


  1. This is really beautiful. I want to know what happened after - did they get married? Did he come back from war? If so, was he the same person? I guess leaving your readers with more questions than answers is the mark of an excellent storyteller.

  2. You did such a lovely job setting up the doubt and then chasing it away with happiness, no matter how short-lived it may end up being for them.

  3. Love the last line.. Beautiful and heart-rending. Nice writing.

  4. You gave him some hope and happiness. Well done

  5. I liked your tip of the hat to an age gone by. I really enjoyed it.


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