Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CANDY (04/28/16)
- TITLE: Hershey Bar Memories
By Sandra Fischer
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We stand on the porch and wait for the whistle, looking south for the 4:30 Limited as it slows for the crossing by our house. Our porch is so close to the tracks we always see the faces of the passengers as the train steams by.
A slight rumble like distant thunder of a coming storm announces the train’s imminent appearance and, then, the Limited’s engine comes into view. A long, shrill whistle pierces the afternoon air and as the passenger cars begin to pass as we strain to find the special one we search for every Friday. We scan each passing window looking for Daddy until I jump and squeal, “There he is!” He waves a newspaper, the signal for us to meet him at the station.
Momma turns the ignition key in the ’42 Chevy and I hop in for the ten-mile ride to Logansport, the ritual we repeat each week to welcome Daddy home for the weekend. As always we arrive at the station before the train, slowed to a snail’s pace as it winds through the rail repair yards to get to the station.
Finally, the train arrives. Chug. Hiss. Screech. Puffs of hissing steam emerge as the cars halt. The conductor hops from the platform, step in hand, and we wait for the familiar form. Soon he emerges and we rush to meet him.
He kisses Momma as I squeeze his legs. His hand tousles my head of auburn curls that match his own. “How’s my girl?”
“Fine, Daddy. I can carry your satchel,” I offer and he smiles.
“It’s too heavy. Probably has some precious cargo.” He winks and takes my hand in his. My fingers trace the callouses, souvenirs of wielding tools repairing signals on the railroad week by week and on weekends from brandishing spade and hoe in the garden he loves.
We head for the car. I skip two steps to his long one and ask, “Did you bring me anything?”
“I brought you me – isn’t that enough?”
“It is for me,” Momma says and I laugh because I know the answer.
The Chevy labors to get home, or so it seems to me, even with Daddy at the wheel. I gaze out the window and listen as he recounts his week of work on the road while Momma tells him how the faucet is leaking again and recites a list of chores he needs to do. I drift to sleep.
The sound of tire braking on the gravel driveway wakes me and I remember where I am. Home. With Daddy back again. I eye the satchel as he pulls it from the trunk and carries it into the house and sets it in the hall. “We’ll take care of this later. I’m hungry.”
I smile. “O.K., Daddy, I can wait.”
Momma puts supper on the table – cold fried chicken, green beans and bacon with a slab of buttered bread. I know what Daddy will say before he takes his second bite. “This is heaven. No comparison to what we get in the camp cars.”
As I help Momma clear the table and heat the kettle for the dishes, Daddy comes with the satchel in hand. “Time to see what’s in here.”
“Can I help?”
“You bet.” And the weekly rite begins as he pulls item after item from the bag. Dirty socks, underwear, and workpants are pulled and piled up, followed by his Dopp kit, the newspaper and a couple of magazines. Each time his hand goes into the satchel and comes out I expect it to hold the prize. His blue eyes sparkle with the tease, part of the weekly routine.
Hands on hips, I tap my foot.
“Not what you’re looking for?” He frowns as he lays each item aside. “Could this be it?” His hand suddenly displays the coveted prize wrapped in shiny brown paper with those delicious letters - “Hershey”.
“Well, maybe.” I play along.
“Shall I keep it myself?”
“No. I think I’ll take it this time.” I hug his neck.
I carefully unwrap the candy and break off a square. The chocolate is sweet on my tongue.
Hershey bar memories of Fridays long ago. With each bite I savor the sweetness to my soul.
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