Love Train

Holiday Express at the Palace Hotel in Port Townsend, WA. Photo by Bonnie Obremski

Holiday Express at the Palace Hotel in Port Townsend, WA. Photo by Bonnie Obremski

By Bonnie Obremski

One day, my dad decided it was time to show us his trains. He revealed a collection of engines and cars, each the size of a pack of Bubble Yum gum. My twin sister and I watched as he snapped sections of nickel silver track into an oval loop on the cranberry carpet.

Then, he revealed the townspeople. Each figure was just larger than his pinky nail. As a child, he had given them eyes and mouths, shoes and buttons with a paintbrush a dozen hairs thick, held in his steady hand.

He linked freight cars behind an engine and lit up the controls. A warm, electric, oily scent filled my nose as the wheels ground against the rails, accelerating almost fast enough to skip the track.

Some twenty Decembers later, I stood in the lobby of the Palace Hotel to take in their award-winning display. The model scale was larger, but the train station, city buildings, cotton snow, and antique figurines looked as though they existed just a mile down the road from the village my father built.

I wondered how things would be now if I had loved the trains, instead of just the conductor. Love can be so heavy to carry. I would load my love into one car, while he loaded his into the next. Then we could sit together at the station as it circled all around.