In search of Inspiration·Inkling Inspirations

The train that wasn’t supposed to come

Humming softly, Harry Krok stood on platform 1 of the station on the Flowerstreet . All his travel papers were safe in the bright blue backpack on his back. His suitcase was next to him, it was almost too heavy to lift. Yesterday the suitcase was about to explode after he had packed everything, so he had tied a strong leather strap around it. Now nothing could happen to it.

“At least I’m well on time,” Harry said cheerfully, to no one in particular. The rain tapped on the corrugated iron roof above the platform. “And I’m dry here, that’s nice.”

Not much happened for a long time. Small puddles began to form on the platform. The splashing of the raindrops was music to Harry’s ears. He was just quietly waiting for the train. The most important piece of his luggage was not in the trunk. No, he held it tightly in his front paws. The present, because that’s what it was, had beautiful bright blue paper and a bright pink bow around it.

“I hope they like it,” he thought. He hadn’t had to think long about his choice in the store. A fluffy pink toy rabbit immediately looked at him with sweet eyes when he walked in.

“It will be that one,” he told the somewhat surprised salesman, who actually wanted to show him a lot of other gifts.

“No, it’s very kind of you, but I’m sure. I want this,” Harry had said.

Now he was here and ready for the trip to Foort, where he went to his niece Cilia for a maternity visit.

“Ahem,” it suddenly sounded next to him. “Do you know that the train is not coming today?” said the voice, sounding somewhat gruff. Harry looked beside him, down. There stood a mouse, which frowned at him. His paw pointed up at a plate. “Look,” said the mouse.

Harry took a closer look at him. “What a boring dark gray suit,” he thought. “That would make me sad too.” Only then did he look at the board the mouse pointed to.

“Oh, that sign,” said Harry, who had already seen it. “Yes I know. But, the train is really coming today, that ugly red cross can’t change that.”

There was indeed a large sign above the platform, with a train on it with a large red cross running through it. As if to indicate that the train was not running.

“But…” began the mouse, still pointing.

Harry continued to look at him with a friendly smile. His grin grew wider. He saw how the mouse suddenly lowered its paw and started to look a little startled.

“Thank you for warning me,” said Harry, but the mouse shuffled back, turned and quickly walked away.

“Where was he supposed to go so fast?” Harry wondered. It took him a while to suddenly realize it. “Oh, it must have been my big teeth,” he said. “How stupid of me, I should have thought of that. Sorry, mister Mouse,” he shouted, but he was no longer to be seen in fields or roads. He felt guilty for frightening the mouse like that. “I just wanted to be kind.” He took a deep breath.

“The train must be coming soon now,” he said as cheerfully as possible. Most of all, he wanted to enjoy this trip. And sure enough, there in the distance did indeed arrive the blue train. Harry carefully tucked his present under his left arm and held up his other hand.

He did not want the train to continue, the driver had to be able to see that he wanted to come along. The train was already slowing and came to a halt right in front of Harry.

“Hello there,” said the engineer, sticking his head out the window. “You want to come today? This is the special ride to Foort.”

Harry looked straight at the Rhino and nodded firmly. “Yes, I want to come. I have an important appointment in Foort today.” He patted the gift that was still under his arm.

“Nice. I’m Freddie Horn, get in quickly,” he pointed to the car behind him. Then he whistled loudly. Another head emerged from the carriage.

Harry saw that it was a Giraffe, sticking its long neck out from between the doors. “Yes, Freddie, what is it?”

“Come over here, Mathilda,” he said. “This fine Mr. Crocodile could use a little help with all his luggage.” Engineer Freddie nodded to Harry, who suddenly felt very distinguished.

“That’s very kind, thank you.” he said.

Not much later Harry was sitting in a nice spot by the window. His suitcase was on the rack above his head. He had safely placed the wrapped pink rabbit next to him on the couch. He rummaged in his blue backpack. “Didn’t I bring something to eat?” he muttered.

Meanwhile, the train started moving again. Harry was still looking for his sandwiches, so he didn’t notice that the Mouse stood open-mouthed at the departing train. He had run away from Harry, but had quickly entrenched himself behind a planter a little further on. He had become curious about the train, which according to him really couldn’t come today.

“Well,” said the Mouse, “that Crocodile is a real lucky one,” he muttered, watching the train, which was now disappearing from sight on the bend ahead.

The journey went without a hitch for Harry. The train stopped right on time at platform 5 in Foort, where his cousin Alex was already waiting for him. Together they carried all of Harry’s luggage to the car and drove to Alex and Cilia’s house.

He was warmly received.

“Do you want coffee?” asked Alex, “and a biscuit?”

Harry hesitated for a moment. Alex, who saw it, immediately understood.

“You know, I also have something other that doesn’t crumble as much. I’ll go make something for you.”

Harry sighed in relief. It was a huge job to get all those little crumbs out from between his teeth again, so he was glad that Alex wanted to prepare something else for him.

He followed Cilia into the nursery. “Look, there she is, our little angel.”

Carefully Harry leaned over the crib. The little girl was asleep, sucking on her thumb. She made a little sound and opened her eyes.

“Oh look, they’re bright green, so pretty,” said Harry.

“Yes, they look a bit like yours,” said Cilia and smiled at Harry. They stood by the cradle for a moment.

“Come on,” said Cilia and tapped Harry on the shoulder. “Let her sleep for a while. We’re going to have a nice cup of tea downstairs.”

Back in the living room, Alex gave Harry a soft white bun with peppery sausages. He put it on the table, and first gave the beautifully wrapped present to Cilia.

“Here you go, for the little one,” said Harry.

Cilia admired the fluffy rabbit and thanked Harry profusely. “How very sweet of you, I’m going to put it in her room later, so she can play with it when she’s a little bigger.”

Harry beamed. They drank their tea, without biscuits, and Harry tasted Alex’s delicious sandwich.

“Say, what train did you come with?” Cilia suddenly asked.

“Well, just take the train from Platform 1. Why?” asked Harry in surprise.

“At Flowerstreet station?” Cilia asked.

“Yes, of course,” said Harry, “where else? I live near there.”

“You are one lucky man Harry,” said Cilia.

Alex raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean, Cilia?”

“That train hardly ever goes to Foort anymore,” she said.

“I didn’t know that,” said Harry. There was silence for a moment.

“Oh!” exclaimed Harry. “Yes, wait a minute. Now that you mention it,” said Harry, “there was a mouse there, on the platform. That mouse said the train didn’t come today. That mouse, he was pointing at a sign, and he was very serious and everything.” Harry rattled on. “But, I had a really good look in my train handbook and it said ’the train only runs on Sundays and public holidays’ you know.” Harry paused and looked at Cilia. “Today is a festive day, don’t you think? And the train came…” Harry didn’t know what to say anymore.

Cilia nodded slightly, but said nothing. Harry found that a little confusing.

Alex gave Harry an encouraging pat on the shoulder. “You’re here, and that’s all that matters.”

Suddenly a big smile broke on Cilia’s face. “I’m teasing you, Harry.”

Harry breathed a sigh of relief.

“You are just lucky. Do you know why?” she asked.

Harry shook his head.

“The train runs on Sundays. Our little angel was born on Sunday. And you, Harry, you too, I remember that. Because I was always a little jealous of you because you were born on Sunday.”

Harry looked at her in bewilderment. “Oh…” he said. He couldn’t say more.

“You are Sunday children and today is a holiday, so of course the train ran today. Especially for you. And for our little angel,” said Cilia, looking as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

“Well, that’s clear then,” said Alex, who now gave his wife a stern look. “You’re scaring Harry here, is that necessary?”

“Sorry,” Cilia said. She got up and gave Harry a big kiss on the cheek. “I really wanted you to come, would that have helped a bit, do you think?”

Harry nodded. “That I know for sure. That always helps.” He looked at Alex. “May I have another cup of tea?” He hadn’t completely lost his fear.

“Of course,” said Alex, who had already stood up. “Another sandwich?”

“Oh yes, please. That was a nice sandwich,” said Harry.

The rest of the afternoon passed quietly. They drank more cups of tea and later had a tasty meal. Harry stayed for three days, as they had arranged.

When it was time to go home again, Alex drove him to the station in Foort. And of course Harry was able to join the blue train of engineer Freddie Hoorn and Giraffe Mathilda again. This time he enjoyed the trip even more and felt like a real lucky crocodile.

“What a beautiful journey this has become. Oh, and if I see that mouse again, I’ll tell him all about it,” he told himself.

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