Maria Langley

A steam train shimmies along a track, a clanking and a whirring. Nine windows to the right of the train two pearly grey eyes of a once radiant appearance sit peering through misty glass. The trees run past the track like the many years that have gone by. Upon her crown sits a hat ruffling up her stringy grey hair. It bobs serenely above her brow, and the perforated skin upon her fragile neck hangs like melting icicles.

She is a woman of great sadness, an inner weakness that aches in her slow heart. Within her crooked mind she hangs by a singular thread of sanity, and the pages are flicked back; she's back on that brilliant green hill with Archie. His loving face, the twinkling smile that makes her feel the absolute woman. It seemed like yesterday he held her in his embrace, and braced her lips with such love and compassion. The sun beamed down…

Alas, her life is at the bitter winter that clenches to her soul and tries to tear it from her body.

A withered rose, wilting away to its last petal. She begins to think so hard about Archie, with that emptiness that fights away to engulf her body. With a golden locket clenched peacefully in her wrinkly hands, she weeps quietly over the black and white photographs inside. Tears trickle calmly over the faces of two lovers, her hand clasps around her wet mouth and she pulls out a tissue shakily. Senility approaches, approaches to the most beautiful woman in the world. The most beautiful woman who sat on that perfect grass, sat under that perfect sun, who kissed that perfect man dies one life and edges into the next one. The steam train clanks and whirrs along the track, and cradles the woman one last time.

'I love you Archie…'

She whispers, and bows her head as the train rocks her frail physique. Her lifeless eyes grow useless, as they sit under the eye lids that bound her to them. The dull world she has become accustomed to disappears, and becomes a memory of an early life as she begins to see the sky turn blue once more, the flowers tingle her nostrils and Archie underneath her, clasps her lovingly.

By Richard Thompson