Southbound Rail

Karen is editor in chief of Writers Village University’s online literary magazine, Village Square. She has both designed and facilitated courses for WVU’s MFA Certificate Program. Her work has ... [+]

Image of Short Story

Tony straddles the rail. “All aboard!” He straightens his conductor’s hat. Pumps his chubby fist just above his shoulder, “Toot, toot.”
Miles away, the westbound train’s whistle echoes. Tony giggles. “Toot, toot.” He digs his heels into the gravel. Slides forward. “Chuga-chuga, Chuga-chuga” Dig-slide...dig-slide. He scoots down the tracks.
The sun beats down on the boy’s head sending ringlets of sweat around the brim of his hat trickling down his rosy cheeks. Weights down his eyelids. Dulls his senses. He rolls into the dirt between the rails. Rests–defers to the midday heat. Drifts into a dreamy doze.

Up the tracks, a half a mile north, a yellow Labrador plays hide-and-seek. A small lizard hides under the rails. The reptile flits from rock to rail. The dog hunches down, anticipates. The lizard peeks. The lab leaps. Claws at the dirt, tail swishing. Sniffs. Pounces.
The lizard darts out from under the track, dashes across the rails, and scuttles under the platform where the railroad switch is housed. The dog spins. Leaps. Lands heavy on the wood. Skids. Knocks the switch lever–sending the westbound track in line with the southbound rails.