A young girl of 8-years-of-age stood patiently in the line at the train terminal. She had the reddest hair of any red head ever, milky white skin, large green eyes and a face full of freckles. Her body was tiny beneath her favorite jeans and bubblegum pink sweatshirt bearing the slogan, “I’m the daughter of a king!” Her feet were clad in pink cowboy boots that had received more than the usual wear. Her name was Candace Victoria Lyle, though she much preferred the name Ace which is the nickname her father used for her. It was her vivid red hair that drew the attention of the gentleman in charge at the head of the line and his twinkling blue eyes smiled as she tried to wait patiently. For an 8-year-old she did well.
“Good morning Miss, do you have your boarding pass?” The white haired gentleman asked Ace as she reached the head of his line.
“Yes Sir, right here!” She replied, proudly pulling it out of her back pocket of her jeans. “I’ve been carrying it for ages!”
A glance told the gentleman she was right, she had been carrying it since she was 5-years, 4-months and 22-days old, which for an 8-year-old like Ace, was ages! “Why so you have!”
“I like you!” Ace announced. “I like this station too! But there is sure a lot of people coming and going and some staying to catch a train while others hurry on. And why does that group of people have so many suitcases? And those people over there sure look confused, do you know why? What about…” Her questions were cut off gently by the man.
“I tell you what Miss Ace it’s time I took a break so what do you say if we sit down over here and I’ll answer as many of your questions as I can? Your train is still a little bit out so we have time.” The gentleman offered.
His suggestion was met with enthusiasm and Ace took his hand and answered, “Okay by me!”
So the pair, looking like grandfather and granddaughter took a seat on a long wooden bench right behind the rail separating the train platforms from the ticket area. The man’s name was Albert and besides his twinkling blue eyes peering out of his remarkably unlined face his hair was a white as the snow-capped Alps and his body as fit as Ace’s father who worked out and jogged an hour every day so he was lean as well as tall. He’d been on duty at this station for longer than most could imagine.
“Now let’s see if we can relieve you of some of those burning questions Miss Ace! What would you like to ask first? My name perhaps?” Albert asked, his smile teasing his young charge.
Ace’s green eyes grew large as she replied, “How’d you know that’s what I was going to ask first?”
Albert continued to smile as he answered, “I just knew! And my name is Albert.”
“Well that’s a very fine name and it starts with an A like mine does! Why are there so many people coming and going out of the big doors but so few in your line?” Ace asked, looking over to where a young woman stood now, covering for Albert’s break.
“Oh people come and go sometimes more times than they can count before making a decision.”
“Doesn’t anybody tell them how important it is to decide? My Daddy said it was the most important decision I’d ever make and he and Mommy didn’t think I could decide when I was five but I could and I did.” Then she lowered her voice to a whisper, “I’m not sure they know where I am though. I made the decision while they were asleep and they didn’t believe me when I told them the next morning. Mommy said we’d talk about it when I got older.”
Albert took her hand again in his and smile reassuring as he spoke, “I’m sure that they know Ace. You don’t have to worry.”
“Oh, I’m not worried! I want to be because I don’t want to worry them but it’s hard to worry once you get here.” The red-haired miss explained, her entire body seeming to bounce with energy. “Now, please tell me why those people can’t decide to come in or not?”
“Not everyone makes the decision easily Ace. No, no some people analyze it and agonize over it. Others believe its necessary one minute and a fabrication the next. Some are scared of what other people will think. Others are so busy living inside their heads they just refuse to even consider coming in. Humanity is a complicated bunch of people you know.” Albert explained, watching Ace’s face as he spoke.
“Hmmm…so what’s up with that bunch over there with all the luggage?”
Albert laughed, “That’s the group who just can’t believe they don’t need to take something with them! See the woman with the fur coat on and the bright red suitcases?”
“The one who is sweaty in that fur?”
Again Albert laughed, “Yes, that one. Would you like to know what’s in her suitcases?”
“You know?” Ace looked impressed with her new friend’s knowledge.
“Dolls. You know those collector dolls like your Aunt Ginger has you can’t play with when you go over?”
“Those ones she says are antique or going to be worth lots of money someday?” The fact Albert knew about Aunt Ginger and her dolls didn’t seem to faze Ace, it seemed perfectly normal.
“The very ones. She can’t bear the thought of parting from them. They were very much like her children but they aren’t allowed on the train and she’s having a hard time leaving without them.” Albert explained.
Ace looked thoughtful, “That’s very sad. I wonder why she thought of a bunch of dolls as her children, didn’t she have real live children?”
“She did but they weren’t very attentive so she replaced them, in a way, with the dolls.”
“Poor woman! Will someone explain things to her?” But even as she spoke a dark skinned young man approached the woman and gestured her into his office, offering to pull the suitcases himself.
“That’s Omar and he’s going to talk to her right now. Omar has a way with people I bet she understands soon.”
Ace nodded in agreement then looked around some more. “I think I’m beginning to get this place Mr. Albert! I think I’m beginning to understand how it works!”
Join me tomorrow for the conclusion of The Station with Part 2.