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Rachel Rachel

Up to the age of fifteen I lived in a large house that backed on to the railway

I loved the railway and I loved my house

I loved my parents and I loved my brother and sisters

To me the railway was always on the move even though the lines were quite still

It was part of the evolutionary process and it was growing day by day

The railway was part of the wider universe and because of that I too was part of this process

Nothing was ever still and everything was expanding at an alarming rate

This alarmed me and comforted me at the same time because I knew that God existed

He loved me as much as my parents loved me

He loved me as much as my brother and sisters loved me

 

My garden had a number of mysterious species of flowers growing in the wild grasses

I could not identify these flowers as they did not appear in books

My favourites were the red flowers that appeared to have silver stems

These were the most beautiful flowers in God’s garden and selfishly I thought that they all belonged to me

My Aunt Gertrude tried to tell me their name but I covered my ears and hummed loudly

She thought me quite rude but I did not want to identify these mystical flowers and never tried to find out

Even to this day I am unaware of their true names

 

There were two girls called Rachel Keen in the village

I was friends with them both and they were friendly with each other

But they could not have been so different

Although they were the same age and shared the same birthday

One was tall and blond and was very attractive

She came from a well to do family and wanted for nothing

Sadly as she got older this spoiled her a little and she drifted out of my circle

The other Rachel had contracted Polio at a young age and had to walk with a calliper

But this did not damage her at all as she was sunny with everybody

Even though the disability caused her much hurt

She could not run or climb trees or swim in the river and although part of our gang would always be found sitting awkwardly usually reading a book

In later life this paid dividends as she went to a fine university where she attained a double first

She still lives in the village and is the headmistress of the local school

I still keep in contact with her and find that her friendship brings me a great joy as it did when we were children

The other Rachel no longer lives in the village but in a town nearby

In a way she has led an unhappy life even though she had all the gifts

She dropped out of university as it bored her and married a merchant at just eighteen

This was a great mistake as it only lasted a year

Two more mistakes followed and now single she owns a small gift shop

I see her from time to time and although she puts on an act I can sense her unhappiness

She is still beautiful but knows this to be superficial and no matter how hard she tries cannot find much under the surface

About a year ago she confided in me that for the first time in her life she is jealous of the other Rachel

Even though they are good friends

 

At the age of fifteen my father sold his business and we moved to London

This shattered my world and I think that it changed me greatly

I was still an affable and good natured chap but this hid an emptiness inside of me

As I missed the mysterious flowers that grew in my wild garden

But most of all I missed the railway

Evolution had begun to mystify me and I no longer felt part of the process

I was marooned in a place that I did not recognise

When I was eight I knew that everything was transient especially beauty

That nothing remains the same forever

But I knew there was a God

And this brought me comfort and helped me to make sense of things

In short I have become confused

I still love God and know that he loves me

I still love my parents and care for their needs

I love my beautiful wife and our lovely children

And I know that my siblings love me

I love and am loved by everyone around me

But there is a hollowness at my core

I have identified it but as yet have not found a cure

 

I may have been wrong but about five years ago I purchased my childhood home

It was not that I especially wanted to move back to the village but I needed to own my past

To some extent this decision was the right one as it has slowed me down

But so much has changed

In the years since we moved the house and garden have changed

There is a very small swimming pool where the wild grasses used to grow and the house and garden now have an empty manicured feel

My mysterious flowers have vanished without trace and no matter how hard I try I cannot find my beloved red and silver flowers

But the biggest change is that the house no longer backs on to the railway as it was closed due a series of landslips down the line

What I thought to be a main line was only a branch line

When I look into the cutting now all I see is a muddy path littered in places with rusting farm machinery

Rachel’s father purchased the land from the railways on closure but has not really found a use for it.

His daughter tells him it would be an ideal nature trail for the school but that is as far as it gets

The railway is dead it is no longer there

Trains no longer pass my house

They are only ghosts now and they have no place in the evolutionary process

It feels that this part of the universe is now dead and I am the gatekeeper of an empty road that has no beginning and no end

But this only confirms my belief in God as I now know that he has a sense of humour