The flickering of the flames from the logs burning in the grate filled the room with a cosy feeling. Elroy remembered drinking rum and the comfort of the taste warming his soul as it slipped into his turkey diner. He recalled these moments of joy and smiled, watching Jay and Josey playing cards under the tinsel draped from the fir tree; happiness and peace washed through him.
The clatter of plates drew him into the kitchen, where Mary was crying by the sink. If only his spirit could kiss and hug her to let her know he missed her, too.
This week’s picture, to me, is a reminder of the Burma -Death Railway built with forced labour by the Japanese Army during WW2. It is estimated that 90,000 labourers and 16000 allied prisoners of war died during it’s construction. The brutality of the period reverberates with us still, in books and in films. One film, The Railway Man, is an adaptation of the account of a British Army Officer, Eric Lomax, captured and tortured by the Japanese. Years after the war Lomax confronts his Japanese counterpart and they become friends. As they say; time heals. Perhaps, but only for some.
My story has nothing to do with that tragic period.
Their shift had ended 200 years ago, and the bearded miners packed the “Journey’s End” pub. The flaming fire warmed the room, but at midnight the atmosphere turned sullen.
John sipped his ale.
Outside, a train screeching to a halt stirred all the men to drink up and leave. John followed them into a fog of hissing steam that obscured a locomotive. The miners climbed into the carriages, and the engine pulled away in the dark above dilapidated tracks. John marvelled at this silver miners’ mystery.
He returned indoors to his bitter ale, and the crowded pub of bearded miners.
I can’t remember when I first noticed the little bird, a wheatear. When the telephone rang it appeared at the window and when I hung up the handset, I would drop some seeds or crumbs outside.
A bond developed between us and mutual expectation. The bird became my companion, and I was its source of titbits. We were creatures of habit, and the little bird became a great comfort to me in my moments of deep anxiety.
The bird will migrate soon, what will I do?
I wished the calls would stop, or at least whoever it was, would speak.
I love the solitude of walking in the park; it reminds me of you asking to play ball with me. Afterwards, we grew in love sitting on a bench talking of brilliant futures.
I am alone tonight since Old Joe with his terrier are in the hostel. He once said the park was his kingdom of peace on Earth.
I believe him.
The snow muffles sound, and the crunch of footsteps are reassuring as I retrace my memories.
It has been years, but I can feel you holding my arm and see the snow sink with your footsteps by mine.
When he stopped playing her tune, she threw him out.
‘And take your Steinway,’ she yelled. ‘It clutters up the place.’
For forty years he played on the street corner.
To the delight of commuters who dropped coins into his hat.
He never asked for a penny.
He lived and dreamed for music and to charm happy smiles from weary faces.
The lonely musician crawled under the lid one day, and citizens kept his piano as a memorial.
The passing shoppers can still hear Debussy being played.
Every day, when his wife waters the flowers on the musician’s grave.
In our eulogies, we promised to gather beneath the yew and play canasta.
Our descendants keep the place fresh and painted in the summer
and, in our honour, they place the cards.
I dislike their stinking cigars.
They have forgotten we played outside in the fresh air away from satanic dens and we thanked the Lord for our community spirit, friendly companionship and enjoyment in life.
We cough and splutter as their foul smoke drifts through the branches disturbing eternal peace, we wait for sundown.
In eons, we have evolved our wisdom and take our seats to play Battlestar Galactica.