Title: Woonsocket Station, Winter Dawn
created on 01 Aug 19

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Comments on this picture (78):
1. AFSOUTH wrote:
2. chellalynn wrote:
 fantastic! love it!
3. indigo wrote:
 LOVE the colours! Beautiful!
4. hjjr wrote:
5. chelydra wrote:
 It's Ground Hog Day, 1941. Our heroine is hoping to rekindle a brief fling with a University of Hartford chemistry professor she had 15 years before, when she was a young flapper.
6. chelydra wrote:
 She had a talent for chemistry, and Milton's pipesmoke reminded her of her beloved grandfather, who used to bounced her on his knee. She missed him. She still does. ore than Milton even. The train to Hartford is running late.
7. chelydra wrote:
 Her husband as always rose at 3:30, fortified his blood with a swig of whiskey, and headed off to fish for Atlantic Salmon in the Blackstone River. They're rare these days and taste of toxic metals from the costume jewelry factories downstream.
8. chelydra wrote:
 She waited until thunderclaps of the backfiring engine of the ancient Model T pick-up finally faded away, then slipped into her last runny pair of silk stockings, swallowed the last drops...
9. chelydra wrote:
 ...from the discarded liquor bottle for courage, quickly brushed her teeth again, pulled on galoshes, and trudged out into the fresh snowdrifts.
10. chelydra wrote:
 New snow blowing across old ice on the sidewalk—she better step carefully. Feels suddenly like she's a wobbly timid old lady but it wouldn't do to break an ankle—
11. chelydra wrote:
 â€”or worse yet, her tailbone. Milton always used to complement the clean streamlined cure of her tailbone, Art Deco, he called it. So cultured, so up-to-date. It dawns on her that he must be nearly sixty.
12. chelydra wrote:
 Brief Intermission, and Announcements: In box 11, cure>curve. In Box 6, bounced>bounce and ore>More. Thank you, and please enjoy a Coca-Cola with your Crackerjacks , now on sale in lobby.
13. chelydra wrote:
 We're back. Please settle down up there in the balcony, and kindly remember that cigar smoking is allowed only the gent's room. As the curtain rises we see...
14. chelydra wrote:
 the pale golden light of the Woonsocket station softly gilding the snowdrifts, and hear stationmaster Steve Smythe's shovel scraping along the stone-paved platform.
15. chelydra wrote:
 Alice always loved those windows. As a little girl she thought it was magic the way the diamond panes projected incandescent patterns on the snow after dark. She and her mom would meet Uncle Sammy here every night. Sometimes he'd bring home a present.
16. chelydra wrote:
 A box of molasses cookies, an adorable little voodoo doll, even a tin wind-up model of the famous U-20, which he insisted was smuggled from Hamburg just for her.
17. chelydra wrote:
 There was pipe tobacco from Scotland, whiskey from Ireland, smoked turkeys from Vermont. No one could ever figure out how Sammy spent his days, but as long as supplied the family with a steady supply of goodies, they didn't care.
18. chelydra wrote:
 Mr. Smythe was too deep into his struggle with the snowdrifts to notice her arriving. Funny, the main door seemed to be frozen shut—nope, locked. Mr. Smythe seemed to shaking his head at her. She waved back, and went around to the side door, and sa
19. chelydra wrote:
 ...down inside on the hardwood bench. Cold as ice. The little potbellied stove must have gone out. Funny, that. Alice looked out through the window—no steam or frost on the glass, it's as cold in here as out there— to where Smythe was still
20. chelydra wrote:
 with unabated fury, and for the first time noticed he was tossing mountains of snow onto the tracks. Better not get involved, she tells herself; and besides...
21. chelydra wrote:
 ... a modern twenty-wheeler could push through its way through, probably even without a plow. Smythe had always been a little tetched in the noggin, was getting on now, and who knows what may have upset him. Maybe his cat died.
22. chelydra wrote:
 A tear rolled wetly down a powdered cheek. She hated when cats die. She knew she was unladylike to not care about a tear-track scarring her makeup, but she didn't care and anyway maybe Milton would find it poignant.
23. chelydra wrote:
 Milton. She didn't really know him, did she? She never had. If his dreams of publishing his discovery of quantum chemistry had panned out, there woulda been something in the Evening Call.
24. chelydra wrote:
 Maybe he was making explosives, only not just for kicks like in the old days, and maybe he was spying for the Bolsheviks or something. They were on Hitler's side now, or pretending to be...
25. chelydra wrote:
 ... Good gawd, she mused. What if Milton really believed that Red party line gobbledygook he'd tried to teach her on their walks in the Connecticut woods.
26. chelydra wrote:
 He might even be designing a superbomb for the Huns in order to bump off the Brits and bring peace. Alice shuddered.
27. chelydra wrote:
 Her shudders became quivers and then shivers, and she snuggled deeper into her overcoat. She pulled the big ratty muskrat collar up over her head as far as it would go.
28. chelydra wrote:
 She heard Mr Smythe hurl his shovel hard across the platform he'd only half-cleared. She sat up to see him storm off, heading east into the pearly predawn glow, away from the station, abandoning his post.
29. chelydra wrote:
 The train would be arriving before too long, but so would enough other passengers, enough to wake her up. Mr. Smythe would be selling tickets like always. She'd dreamed up all the rest. Dozing off for a while now.
30. chelydra wrote:
 If Alice hadn't been quite so sleepy, numb, apprehensive and disoriented, she might have realized the frigid air was real enough and snapped out of her stupor.
31. chelydra wrote:
 Sadly, our story is ending right here. What we didn't know when we drew and titled the picture last night, and began to write today—and what Alice certainly didn't realize —and now never will realize—
32. chelydra wrote:
 is that the last trains that stopped in Woonsocket stopped stopping there in 1941. When the Revitalization & Gentrification Commission opened up the mothballed and haunted station in the 1970s
33. chelydra wrote:
 ...they saw a heap of dusty rubbish on a bench by the pot-bellied stove. A cleaner from the city's work crew picked up the mass of rags, noticing a faint whiff of muskrat amid the dustclouds.
34. chelydra wrote:
 There were some hard white sticks, shaped like bones, clattering into the rubbish bin and spilling out onto the marble floor tiles, now graffitied with bird-poop.
35. chelydra wrote:
 A skull too, with strands of brunette hair clinging to it. Eee-yoo, said the cleaner. Good Lord, said the commissioners. It's from a theater troupe's collection of props, it looks like, volunteered a lady commissioner, who went on to make up a story about
36. chelydra wrote:
 vaguely remembering a theater troupe from Boston that used the station for rehearsals one summer, 1950 or so, and left a lot of stuff behind. No one else has been been in here since then, probably.
37. chelydra wrote:
 She says she remembers now, they did just Shakespeare, so the skull had to be Hamlet, of course. All present agreed that made sense, and out it went.
38. chelydra wrote:
 All the commissioners and the cleaner too understood without saying a word that they too should remember, very faintly, hearing something about Shakespeare performances outdoors on the village square, way back when.
39. chelydra wrote:
 And of course it was imperative that all the rubbish and debris from the old station should be pulverized and securely packed up for sanitary incineration.
40. chelydra wrote:
 The cleaner, whose name was Johnny Smythe, had friends on staff at Miriam Hospital. This stuff could fit in neatly with the medical waste, and it'd all be sterile snow-white ash by this time tomorrow.
41. chelydra wrote:
 Alice's husband never came back that afternoon, nor that night, nor ever. His little outboard skiff washed up by Fort Wetherill at the mouth of Narragansett Bay weeks later.
42. chelydra wrote:
 I won't tell you what was found in the skiff, aside from the fishy things you'd expect. Some say there were secret papers stolen from Tesla's Wardenclyff laboratory, connecting the principles of radionics with the Golden Mean and the vibrational frequenci
43. chelydra wrote:
 frequencies of Atlantic Salmon in their final weeks of passion and death, but the truth, I've heard from some old-times of Jamestown Island, was even stranger than that.
44. chelydra wrote:
 Milton didn't even remember that Alice was supposed to be coming. He had a typical day of uninspired lecturing and ineffectual flirting, then went home and listened to radio dramas while smoking his pipe.
45. chelydra wrote:
 He downed a can of pumpkin soup and read an Ellery Queen mystery in bed. He'd long ago forgotten his quantum chemistry nonsense, and was suprised to find he felt only relief when the Reds rejected his application for Party membership.
46. chelydra wrote:
 So much for Milton. Alice probably would have died of dismay if the train had taken her from a warm bustling station to Hartford that day.
47. chelydra wrote:
 So this is perhaps the happiest available ending, all things considered. Alice was taken up to heaven. Her husband either got what he deserved or turned over a new leaf and started a new life.
48. chelydra wrote:
 As for Uncle Sammy, who knows? We've already tied up more loose ends in this little story than the Fates would have if left to their own devices. So that's that.
49. chelydra wrote:
 But I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that all of this grew out of a failed attempt to make a nice copy of 'Portrait de Caude-Lise Goerg' by Jacques Villon.
50. chelydra wrote:
 Those of you dedicated Cheydrans (dedicated enough to read this far) who are old enough to remember the Mild Cubism craze that whirled through ThinkDraw for a brief moment in mid-2010 ...
51. chelydra wrote:
 ... may recall my shameless promotion of the too-little-remembered Jacques Villon (brother, if I remember rightly, of the famous Marcel Duchamp, and of a great sculptor named Duchamp-Villon.
52. chelydra wrote:
 Jacques Villon was perhaps the mildest of all the masters of Mild Cubism, and one of the most masterful. He's an acquired taste; he won't knock your socks off at first glance.
53. chelydra wrote:
 One final footnote: it actually is Groundhog Day down under where calendars and seasons are flipped upside-down. August 2nd is therefore really February 2nd here. And here is where this came into being.
54. AFSOUTH wrote:
 Well done! Outstanding! Thank You Again
55. chelydra wrote:
 You're very welcome, and thanx for noticing! The strangest part of that experience was discovering that when I said it was 1941 (a year I deliberated over until I found one that felt exactly right)...
56. chelydra wrote:
 ...I had very carefully settled on the year that station was shut down! I thought all the station closures happened in the 1950s-60s-70s.
57. chelydra wrote:
 And I was already well into 1941 as the exact time of the story before I knew the station about to die!
58. chelydra wrote:
 < [was]
59. chelydra wrote:
 (I used that time during the intermission to time-travel back to 2019, to google "Woonsocket Train Station" to see what sort of place it might have been, and make it had existed. Only then did I discover what kind of story I'd been pulled into. If we had
60. chelydra wrote:
 ...an edit option I might have tried to make it 1938-40 or so, just to avoid the ghastly denoument.)
61. chelydra wrote:
 I neglected to mention that Alice's husband's disappearing on the same day Alice decided to visit her old flame was not really a coincidence.
62. chelydra wrote:
 Her husband had been increasingly preoccupied and eccentric, and it was getting suddenly much worse during January.
63. chelydra wrote:
 There were some reasons for this. As I hinted in Box #42, one big reason is even now, almost 80 years later, classified information I wish I could share but if I did there'd be all hell to pay.
64. chelydra wrote:
 Other reasons are the ordinary reasons marriages go wrong: inability to deal warmly and lovingly with miscarriages and a stillbirth, creeping alcoholism, that sort of thing.
65. chelydra wrote:
 In a nicer story, whether the station was icy and abandoned, or toasty and busy, Alice would have come to her senses, realized it'd never work out with Milton...
66. chelydra wrote:
 ...or she might have used a public telephone to call Milton long-distance, just to say the train might be running late or to say again how much she'd always loved him and plan their date
67. chelydra wrote:
 ... and Milton, groggily picking up his phone after fifteen agonizing rings, would have said, sorry, whom did you say is calling? Or just wrong number. Or just hung up, and hung up again she called back to say they'd been disconnected.
68. chelydra wrote:
 Or worst of all, he might have answered, Oh Hi, Harriet, love, I'm so glad it's you on the phone, there's a Mozart quartet performance at the university tonight, and we could meet for dinner — Harriet? Hello? Oh damn...
69. chelydra wrote:
 And then Alice would have felt overwhelmed with a powerful urge to save her marriage, make a fresh start, try once again for a baby and settle into a loving long quiet marriage even if no baby came...
70. chelydra wrote:
 Alice would have used whatever money she could discover in her purse to buy the makings of a romantic special dinner, with candlelight...
71. chelydra wrote:
 ... and by mid-afternoon would be in a black silk slip (inder a sweater for now), ready to surprise her man with an embrace and —
72. chelydra wrote:
 â€” his favorite Dorsey band song on the old wind-up victrola, or the Paul Whitman waltz they'd danced to after high school graduation...
73. chelydra wrote:
 ...but her husband wouldn't have come home. Alice never would have survived the ensuing emptiness. Even if she kept breathing another forty years, she'd have been dead inside.
74. chelydra wrote:
 And so, what really happened really WAS the happiest of all the endings actually available under the actual circumstances.
75. chelydra wrote:
 And in real life, what more can we hope for, after all? It's best to snuggle down into whatever muskratty overcoat we have available, and drift off peacefully into the happiest available ending...
76. chelydra wrote:
 ...either unaware it is the ending, or secure in the knowledge that all other available endings would probably be a lot worse. And so we finally say good night, good luck, and don't let the muskrats –––– [whatever]
77. chelydra wrote:
 [sorry about that, was just trying to wrap it up before I missed breakfast, and wrote myself into a jam]
78. eve777 wrote:
 I had no idea what i was in for when i checked out this pic... great pic..great story

User: chelydra

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