Hildreth stood silent on the platform. Elsie stood beside him with her arms wrapped around his waist. His arm rested comfortably around her shoulder.
Neither one spoke as they waited for the train.
The rain returned in a cold patter.
Elsie looked up at him. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I don’t even know why.” He smiled. “I think I’m just being paranoid.”
“Heck if I know.” Ambrose. I’m nervous about Ambrose, Elsie. I want to tell you. I want to be honest with you. But I can’t. I know I can’t. I know how you’d react. So, I have to lie. I’m sorry. I wish it weren’t this way. I wish…
The train wailed out its lonely call as it made its approach.
She tightened her grip on him.
He kissed the top of her head. “I’ll come back. And I’ll be stronger. I’ll be a better fighting partner. I’ll…”
The train rolled into a stop. The doors hissed open.
She raised her arms to around his neck and pulled him in closer. “I don’t care how you come back. Just come back.” She kissed him with a passion that made him want to forget it all and stay.
“All aboard who’s comin’ aboard. And if you aren’t comin’ aboard, well. Don’t come aboard!”
“Be safe, Hildreth.”
Words filled his head. Words that wanted to be spoken. But he couldn’t find the way to say any of them. “You too.”
“Hey, lovebirds! You comin’ aboard or not?”
She released him.
Hildreth picked up his duffel bag. He gave Elsie a longing look before heading towards the train.
If she runs after me and begs me to stay, how will I find the strength to say no? It seemed so easy before, but now that my moment has come…Now that it’s finally here, my strength is all gone. I just want to run back to her and confess all of my lies.
He climbed the train’s steps. But I can’t let her face Ambrose. I just can’t.
He stopped on the top step and looked back.
Elsie stood alone on the platform. Her arms hung straight at her sides.
The rain came down harder, creating a wall between him and her.
“I have to do this for her. For us.” He turned around and crossed the threshold.
After a few minutes, the door closed and the train left the station.