Picture credit is in the image.
Selected Scenario: A homely old woman with a strange hat and a love for good food is looking for a place to stay.
Old Lady in Black
Margret sat on the bench, quietly sobbing. “It’s all my fault,” she thought, looking down at the teardrops on her open palms resting on her lap. “These hands raised that boy to be what he is today.”
Another glance at the clock over the ticket window told her more than just the time. It said it was 7:20 in the evening in this dusty train station. It also said that it was now 12 hours since her last meager meal of a simple corn cake and a glass of water kindly given to her by the train conductor. That was before she had been escorted from the passenger car of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Her ticket had said Santa Fe, so that is where she had to get off.
Staring at her hands, she saw nothing of the real world. Her mind was back in Kansas City. That last night when her 40 year old son, Winthrop, had come home from work to find a wonderful flat iron steak dinner on the table and a smile on his mother’s face.
“What the hell is this?” he had yelled. “I’ve told you a hundred times that we can’t afford these expensive meals on my salary. I’ve finally had it with you, mother! First thing in the morning I’m sending you to your sister’s house in Santa Fe. Let her deal with your extravagant nonsense.”
Without eating any of the wonderful dinner, Winthrop had stormed up the stairs to her room and packed her few belongings in an old leather valise. Coming back down the stairs, he had placed the valise by the front door, then turned to her and calmly stated “Don’t bother changing tonight.You can wear that same old black dress and your black hat tomorrow when I take you to train station. I’ll wire Aunt Katherine that you’re coming and when to expect your train to arrive. I just can’t deal with you anymore.”
With that said, he had picked up his dinner plate, stormed into his study, and slammed the door.
Margret had just stood there, stunned. Not one sound of protest would she make. Not one tear would she shed in his presence. This ungrateful man, who used to be her son, was throwing her out of his home. More importantly, he was throwing his own mother out of his life!. Winthrop’s father would be turning in his grave.
Emptiness. That was all she had felt at the time. A woman alone. Her husband had been dead for almost four years. Her inheritance had been taken over by her son, an accountant in the Kansas City stockyards. A man with a full cash box instead of a heart. Sending her to her sister’s house in Santa Fe? What about the will? What about his father’s instructions to use the inheritance to take care of his mother for the rest of her life? Was that all meaningless to him? Shouldn’t she be able to spend her own money to satisfy her one joy in life? Shouldn’t she be able to have at least on fine meal per day? Hell, she was even doing all the work in preparing the meals and cleaning up afterwards.
“Ma’am?” said the railroad clerk who was standing directly in front of her, apparently unseen for the past several minutes.
“Yes?” she got out in barely a whisper.
“Ma’am, you have been sitting on that bench now for hours. Is someone coming to pick you up?”
“My sister is supposed to pick me up, if she ever got the wire from my son in Kansas City.”
“Well, we close the station in 20 minutes. What will you do if your sister doesn’t come?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “My son banished me here without a penny. If Katherine doesn’t pick me up, I guess I’ll sit here until I die. What else can I do?”
“You can’t stay here. You’ll have to move to a bench on the platform outside. I have to lock up the building for the night. Take my hand,” he said as he offered to help her up. “I’ll carry your valise. We can get you on the bench under the awning. Your sister should be able to see you there from street.”
“Thank you,” was all she could say as she took his hand and then shuffled her feet out to the train platform.
“Here you go,” said the clerk as he placed the valise next to the outside bench. “Can I get you anything before I lock up?”
“A glass of water would be appreciated,” she said. Asking for a meal, at this point, was too demeaning. Her empty stomach would have to remain empty.
“I’ll be right back,” said the clerk.
A simple kindness from a stranger. The conductor on the train had been the same way. Perhaps all was not lost. There were still good people in the world. “Patience,” she said to herself. “Just let what happens happen.”
Margret took a small sip from the proffered water glass and put the remainder on the platform next to her valise. It would have to last the night, in case Katherine never made it. There was an outhouse around the corner from the station, if she needed it.
With those simple thoughts, Margret steeled herself for the long chilly desert night. This was a new and different world. Would she find a place to live? Tomorrow would have to find its own way into her life. A fine meal, at this point, was really out of the question, except in her dreams. Let them be filled with fresh vegetables, a fine roast, and a delicious piece of cake. Her stomach rumbled at these thoughts. It was going to be a long night.
I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.
Please hurry with the next NU book!