• Contributing Author

The Forgotten Station

Samuel Moore stood on the platform alone. It was 11:45 p.m., February 13, 1910. He had a bouquet of white roses in one hand and a ring box in his pocket. He was attired in his very best black wool three-piece suit and white shirt with a red tie. He pulled his silver pocket watch, suspended by a watch chain from his pocket, to check the time. He was awaiting the arrival of Clarissa Jennings on the late train from Barwick Station to Ardington Station, due to arrive at 11:59 p.m. This Valentine’s Day was going to be a very special day, indeed. Samuel was excited. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other in nervous anticipation. He spotted the train coming down the track right on schedule. He straightened his tie, cleared his throat and approached the slowing train.


Ardington Station was the premier stop along the line, beautifully designed in Art Nouveau style. From the white tile with a black scroll design on the floor to the elegant fretwork in each arch by the track, this station was the “jewel in the crown” for the South London Railway, truly a visual treat. Built in 1908, it was a feat of modern construction. Ardington was one of four underground stops along the newly constructed railway. More stations were planned to connect the whole of London underground.


Few passengers were aboard the last train of the evening. Samuel nervously waited as the train came to a stop. The conductor opened the compartment door to the car in which Clarissa was to arrive. The first person to depart from the rail car was a rather large, elderly gentleman in a black coat and black derby with an unlit cigar held between his teeth. The second passenger was a regal-looking lady in a fashionable dark green coat and large-brimmed black velvet hat trimmed with a green grosgrain ribbon band. Samuel noticed the fond glance shared by the first two passengers and surmised they were man and wife. He thought to himself that one day, many years hence, the glance between Clarissa and himself would be as fond. There was a delay of a minute or two and then longer. Clarissa did not disembark. He thought to himself that she must be gathering her belongings and he would see her step off the train. Still, no Clarissa. The conductor shut the door and the train started to move. Samuel ran along-side until the train gathered momentum and pulled away. Huffing and struggling to catch his breath, he stopped. Where was she? Why was she not on the train? Samuel knew he had the right schedule. He purchased the ticket himself and sent it to her. Clarissa accepted his intriguing invitation and replied she was anxious to see him again. She signed her reply, “Love, Clarissa.” Had she changed her mind?


Samuel dragged himself home. He opened his door and dropped the wilting white roses down on the bureau in the foyer. He felt heavy and could hardly get himself up the stairs. He undressed and fell into bed. There would be no sleep for Samuel that evening. He got up the next morning and was drinking a breakfast tea and struggling to eat a biscuit when the doorbell rang. A uniformed young man was at the door and handed Samuel a telegram. He quickly opened it. Tears ran down his cheeks. “We are saddened to inform you that Clarissa Jennings was killed by a runaway horse and buggy. She had just departed her flat when the horse came careening toward her. She could not get out of the way before the horse struck her. She had an invitation in her hand from you, Sir, and we knew her destination. We are so sorry to have to inform you about her tragic accident. We are heartbroken as you must be as well. We will let you know regarding funeral arrangements.” Signed, “Mr. and Mrs. Harry Jennings.”


****


Samuel gradually worked through his grief and moved forward with his life. He married, a Miss Sophie Bryant, and had one son, George Samuel Moore. Sadly, Sophie was overcome by tuberculosis and died in 1940. Samuel never remarried. He raised little George Samuel with the help of his sister, Fiona. George grew into a fine young man and looked very much like his father, Samuel. Samuel was so proud of George. He had strong character, good morals and would certainly do well in life, Samuel thought.


****


One day in 1965, Samuel found an old South London Railway flyer among his belongings. He found himself transported to the past and suddenly, he was standing just outside the old Ardington stop. This section of railway closed in 1940, but traces of the stop were still visible. Samuel found an opening in the trees where the wall had collapsed and carefully made his way inside. Inside, Ardington was still intact. A subway train was stopped just short of rounding the bend getting ready to depart. Everything still looked the same. The station’s interior was as beautiful as the last time he visited on that fateful day in February 1910. Samuel’s thoughts returned to his beautiful Clarissa. He was lost in thought when he noticed movement in the last subway car. The compartment door slid open and Clarissa gracefully floated down the passenger step. She was every bit as beautiful as the last time he saw her in 1910. She was smartly dressed in a fashionable ankle length black taffeta skirt with a white blouse. Ankle-length skirts were the height of fashion in 1910. She wore a wide black belt with a marcasite butterfly buckle. A small black velvet hat sporting a red feather sat atop her head. Samuel was in awe. He suddenly felt young again and all the love he never got to express for Clarissa returned. She extended her graceful, delicate hand to him and he carefully took it in his. Samuel and Clarissa gazed fondly into each other’s eyes, turned and walked together around the bend and into the darkness.


****


“Mr. Moore?” the doctor asked the young man in the waiting room.


“Yes, doctor,” replied George Samuel.


“I’m sorry to inform you that your father passed away just a few minutes ago, His heart stopped and we couldn’t revive him,” the doctor told George.


Grief-stricken, George entered Samuel’s hospital room one last time with a heavy heart. When he looked down at his father’s face, there was no countenance filled with struggle or pain. Instead, George saw a serene, peaceful look on his face and a slight smile on his lips. Time of death was 12:01 a.m., February 14, 1965.


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