The last train leaves the station. Rails hiss. Cables buzz. Pigeons flap then float back down. On the platform, a suitcase waits.
Ludo drags it into the station office; lugs it onto the desk with a thump. It’s old and leathery, like him.
Agnes the ticket seller shuffles over, pokes it with a seashell pink nail. Or maybe she pokes Ludo. “Lost property?”
Ludo nods. “Someone must have forgotten it.”
“I’ll fill out a form,” she coos, plumping down in her chair.
The pigeons are sleeping. A slow breeze rolls down the tracks. Baked timetables flake and fall. Ludo tuts; sweeps dust from the suitcase. Agnes is nowhere to be seen, but he can smell her—roses and oranges—so she can’t be far.
“All that is forgotten is lost,” he says.
“Maybe they’ll come back for it,” she murmurs from under the desk.
A fox runs down the tracks. Brickwork trembles beneath ivy fingers.
Ludo stands on the platform, frowns at his watch. Inside, the clock is frozen, like the pipes. Agnes struts across the desk and hops onto the suitcase with a flap, jabbing its thick handle with a seashell pink beak.
“Have you tried the lock?” she asks.
He bends, hands on knees, and she’s right. It needs a combination. “Think of a number,” says Ludo, but Agnes only tilts her head and blinks.
The platform is wet and rumbling. Grey light puddles in broken glass.
Ludo tips water from the lid of the suitcase. Someone should patch the roof — Agnes is up there, she could do it.
He puffs himself up against the cold and fiddles with the small brass dials.
– 1 – 3 – 4 – 4 –
The lock clicks.
“See, Agnes, I told you,” he calls up, but Agnes never answers him anymore. He’s not sure she ever did.
Ludo unzips the suitcase and butterflies it open on the table like a mortician. There is nothing
inside, of course there isn’t. That’s why it was so heavy.
On the roof, Agnes turns her back on him, feet clattering broken tiles. Then she snaps her wings and flies into the clouds.
There’s an announcement. Lines crackle. Speakers coo. Ludo is ready.
He takes his place at the edge of the platform. Waits, as the forest approaches.
Finally a pigeon calls, soft and urgent, and with a flap he’s gone, as a single smoky feather drifts down onto the tracks.
Lynda Cowles is a writer/producer of video games, murder mystery games, non-fiction and tiny stories. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was Highly Commended in the 2020 National Flash Fiction Day Microfiction Competition. She lives with her husband and daughter in the Cambridgeshire Fens, England, and can be found @lyndacowles.