Once, I had a forest grove of whispering birch leaves and moss-covered stones, before the fire. Once I had a ring of standing stones around a tower, before the tower fell. Once I had a fortress, and I thought it would protect me, until the breach in the walls.
Once I had a cottage, and an herb garden, before I walked away. Once I had a lighthouse, close to the shore, before it sank beneath the sand.
And once I had a train.
Sunset gives way to dusk, the vivid reds and pinks descending to blues and grey. I sit on the hill, overlooking where the train yard would be, had I rebuilt it in this place. A small valley, shaded from sun, an entrance in, an entrance out...not inaccessible, just secluded. I thought I needed seclusion, for a while.
I thought a lot of things.
But now, on this hill overlooking the valley...I'm watching the train yard rebuild itself. Rail by rail, gravel rolling in from the edges where no gravel was, the smell of creosote slowly rising on the darkening air. Sidings on raised beds, switch engines, banks of trees disappearing into ties and ballast. The small cabin, built up from a pine-branched lean-to when I arrived, is left untouched, though I watch it moving, seemingly by itself, off to one side.
Rusted sheet metal unfolds with creaks and a coppery dusting of metal flakes. Wood panels, chain, pierced industrial squares, steeplecabs and spreaders, blankets laid down before more ballast is set atop, creating a higher, raised section as everything else fills in. I wonder if these corroded, patched cars will heal as time goes on, or if this is just evidence of current damage. I watch dogspikes fly through the air like birds.
Yet, with all the shifting, with all the removal of what I thought I wanted here...there is still shade, there is still moss on the ground in the side groves. There are flowers underfoot, around the rails, and crawling up the slopes of the hill. I smell burdock, blue columbine, honeysuckle, silverweed and sand verbena. The nodding heads of shooting stars, the glossy blues of grapeholly, the tangle of marionberry vines, the fiery red of paintbrush blooms I pick out in the gathering dark.
Sounds of engines coming in, sounds of cars clamped together and leaving, but at either end of the valley, the rails stop. The trains just move along them, fading into mist and steam when they hit the missing sections, and I wonder where they're going. I also wonder if they'll come back.
And I wonder if it bodes good or ill, in the long run. Even in the short term, it's puzzling. After all, nothing's on fire...yet.