Amanda

It was a cold frigid Halloween night in Cumberland, Maryland.  I was standing at the old train station taking photos.  I walked to the south end, and I saw a woman jogging up the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Tow Path towards the station.  I turn towards the tracks, but I heard the sounds of pounding feet.  I glanced at the woman as she arrived at the top of the steps, and she jogged to the center of the old waiting platform.  Her jet-black hair flowed from her old Pittsburgh Steelers cap down to her shoulders.  Her thick yellow coat reflected the streetlights.  She had on gray gloves, black bicycle pants, but she was barefoot.

            “Excuse me,” she glanced at me, “but has the last train of the day arrived yet?”

“It arrived some time ago,” I replied.

“Not possible,” she said.  “It always comes at this time.  I am waiting for someone who is on that train.  I assume that you are not from around here.”

            “I’m not,” I replied.  “I am just here for the night.”

            “Welcome,” she said as she was doing some stretches.

            “Thank you,” I said.  “Aren’t your feet cold?”

            “I don’t feel a thing.”  She smiled as she did her stretches.  “Anyway, it is Halloween.  I hope that you can find a party.  There are a few in town.”

            “What are you doing?” I asked.

            “Getting ready to jog home.”  She stopped and smiled.  “I have a long way to go.”

            “It is kind of dark.”  I slowly approached her.

            “I’m fine,” she smiled and blew me a kiss.  “I do this all the time.  Nice to meet you, but I have a long jog ahead of me.  Bye-bye.”

            Before I could respond, she jogged to the opposite end of the depot and went to the back side.  I thought that she was a genuinely nice lady, but I assumed that I would never see here again.

#

The very next morning, I arrived at a local restaurant where I was going to have breakfast.  The host sat me down, and I looked at my menu, but I looked up and saw an old photo of a lady wearing a white bonnet.  I peeked at my menu but glanced again at the photo.

            “Hello,” my waiter arrived.  “Would you like something to drink?”

            “Chocolate milk and apple juice,” I replied, but the photo began to grab my attention.

            “You are looking at the old photo,” the waiter interrupted.  “She is very famous around here.”

            “She is a very lovely lady,” I continued to glance at the photo.  “She would have been a nice lady to meet.”

            “You’re a little late,” the waiter went on.  “If you were to have been at the old depot last night, you would have seen here.”

            “Well, sorry,” I laughed, “but I saw a gorgeous lady wearing her jogging clothes…”

            “With the yellow coat and Steelers cap,” the waiter interrupted, “and she was barefoot.”

            “Right,” I was completely shocked.

            “That lady is the same lady in that photo.”

            I began to stutter.

            “That lady that I saw at the train station last night is the lady in that photo.”

            “It is very hard to believe,” the waiter sat down at the table.  “She came to the train station every night hoping to see her love on the train.”

            “What happened to him?” I asked.

            “No one knows for sure,” the waiter continued.  “There were many stories.  All that is confirmed is that he left town and never came back.”

            Curious, I asked, “What happened to her?”

            “Sadly,” the waiter continued, “she contracted and illness and died at a young age, about nineteen in fact, back in the year 1855.”

            I went into deep thought.

            “She came from one of the lock houses where she lived with her family,” the waiter continued.  “Her attire has changed through the years, but she still comes to the station.”

            I thought about the story.  “What was her name?”

            “Amanda,” he replied.

            “Amanda,” I repeat.  “Will she come out tonight?”

            “Maybe,” the waiter replied.

#

It was the evening.  I walked to the old station, and I waited… and waited… and waited.  It was colder than the night before.  It got later and colder, but she did not come.  Maybe it was not her night.

            “You have returned,” she snuck behind me.  “You must be waiting for the train too.”

            I turned to see her wearing the same Pittsburgh Steelers cap, bright yellow coat, and bare feet.

            “Actually,” I told her, “I came to see you.”

            A tear started to roll out of her eyes.

            “I never thought anyone would want to see me,” she wept.  “I have been coming here to see my man to come on the train, but he has never come.  I do not know what happened to him.  He is coming.  Is he?”

            I did not know what to say.  The question puzzled me.

            “I do not know,” I told her.

            “At least I have one friend to see me tonight,” she smiled with a streak of tears on her face.  “Will you be here tomorrow night?”

            I thought about it.  I lived so far away.

            “Sure,” I said.

            “Great,” she was incredibly happy.  “I will see you tomorrow night.”

            “Goodnight, Amanda.”

            She paused.  “I have not heard that name in a very long time.  Thank you.”  There was a bright twinkle in her eye.

            She then jogged along the track bed and out of sight.  As I watched her leave, I had to wonder how I was going to get back here.

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