Transportation Tuesday: Amtrak Fiction

I’ve been working on a short story for years about a friendship slipping into an unfamiliar place. One of these days I’ll fish it out of the muck. In my book (ha), trains are good places for writing, and good places to write about. I don’t feel the same way about airplanes, where you enter a sort of stasis between points A and B. This introductory portion was inspired by the Northeast Corridor, the stretch of rail between New York and DC.

Early rail. Photo: Profimedia.

            A jolt over the old join in the rail dislodged the book from my hand. It was useless, that book, this attempt to read. I let it go; I did not pick it up. Such blowing litter in my mind, bits of tweed and scraping leaves.  I stared out the train window, a scene anemic in the pale autumn sunshine, each image sliding by me a story of epic loss.  Nine rails withered into four, and overhead, brittle wires dangled over abandoned boxcars. Concrete shards littered the dirt. Such sparkling abandonment by those workers, the capital, the ideas; they were now gone, and I didn’t see them coming back. What had we looked like when we were new? It was  likely that we had never been new. The trash, the litter of peoples’ lives. The view was exquisite; I sat there open-mouthed, gaping and fixed, like I was watching porn. The yogurt cups, the motor oil containers, empty cigarette packs, the split second decisions to push things away, to chuck them onto the rail. Things left to deteriorate. Fortunate is the one to recognize their own deteriorations prior to collision with them. Do such people exist? 

The train was picking up speed.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.