The Visit

The night was cold and dark. In the distance, I could just make out the dim light of the approaching train as it lit up the wide-spaced tracks that disappeared into the distance to a vanishing point almost on the horizon. Would Stephan be on the train?

Why had I put on my summer dress in this terrible weather? And the woollen singlet didn’t help much. I could feel the goose pimples slowly rising on my forearms, and gave them some brief rapid strokes with my fingertips, in a futile attempt to bring the blood to the surface. But the rest of my body was trembling, partly with the cold, partly with anticipation.

The train slowly came closer. From the front funnel, I could see the steam rising to the sky, insistently, in a series of staccato puffs, circles of steam that briefly caught the lights from the train, and then melted into the darkness of the sky. Were they a symbol? Why do the bright moments in one’s life disappear so quickly?

I dismissed these gloomy thoughts from my mind as the train pulled into the station. There were rattles as doors opened and a few passengers descended the steps at this remote stop. But where was my man? As the messenger from my heart, my pulse was letting me know what it was hoping for.

I was about to despair, when a white-clad figure appeared in the doorway of the last carriage. It was Stephan. He was wearing regulation US Navy shore-leave uniform, and the brass buttons of his shirt were like little beacons in the darkness. I rushed forward, my handbag trailing under my arm.

When we embraced, it was like heaven. I know that I am talking in clichés, but if heaven exists, it is true! My feelings had been frozen for many years now, since Fred left, and to feel the warm embrace of the strong arms of a handsome man was, oh dear! how can I describe it? I felt myself rising out of my high heels into the air, into a land of bliss, with a feeling that could have lasted forever. But would it last?

At home, I rushed about. I had placed a supply of Fosters in the fridge, and had bought a full-size bottle of Johnny Walker from the discount section of the supermarket, for I knew that whiskey was the way to a man’s heart, well, to an American’s heart anyway. And after a few glasses and a good meal of fried kidneys with onions, we were set to enter the land of dreams.

I will not go into the details of the next episode, for everyone knows what sailors who have been at sea for months, want. To tell the truth, what all men want. Why are they so obsessed with you-know-what? Is that was romance was all about? What about relationships?

I knew all about relationships, for when Fred set himself adrift, I had a spell of counselling at the local Family Welfare Bureau. Father O’Reilly had put me on to the nature of true love. It was, he said, a case of moving from what he called “the genitals to the heart.” He didn’t say it in those words, but that was the essence of what he was trying to tell me. Avoid addictions, let a thousand flowers blossom. Oh no, that was what my ex – Fred – had told me about the Chinese and dear old Mao.

Anyway, in no time Stephan decided he was onto a good thing (that was an expression he used when he talked about betting on the races) and we got married.

The Visit

Basil

Box Hill North, Australia

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Artist's Description

A girl meets a GI after the War on a cold Geelong railway siding.

Artwork Comments

  • Damian
  • Basil
  • Damian
  • Susan Grissom
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