The Sun is Shining

The Sun is melting into the horizon. The lush grass glows warmly under the dying light of day. This is the last light I will ever see.

I sit down on a small boulder. I have picked a spot by a stream. It flows slowly, like tea from the pot. I don’t know which stream it is, and I don’t care – as long as it is beautiful.

A fieldfare lands in front of me. The specks on its breast stand proud against the radiant white feathers. The brown on its head and down his back reminds me of firewood. I throw the bread that I have brought to him – I can tell he’s male because of his chattering song. He pecks at a piece of crust and gobbles is down gratefully. Then he flies away. I sit and wait until I can no longer see the slowly disappearing brown speck against the twilight sky.

I decide I must move on – I have more places to visit. I get up and throw the rest of the bread down in case the fieldfare comes back. I’m sure he will. Then, I go down to the stream, kneel on the bank, and drink. Oh! how wonderful this water is! It is like wine, only purer. It is simply liquid, but it is the most wonderful liquid. I long to stay, to drink forever, but I must move on. I get up and walk on through the glorious grass. The dew of the morning is long gone, and the grass feels dry, yet soft. Just the way I’ve always liked it.


I am walking through a village. It is beautifully peaceful here, and the stone cottages lining the paved streets glow in the twilight. I turn a corner and spot the village green, covered with the same kind of grass as the field I have just walked through. The children come here from all over the village to play every evening. Except today. I long to see their smiling faces, to hear them laugh without a care. Oh, how I long to be free, as I was when I played in that grass.


I haven’t much time left. I need to get there in time. I tear myself away from the village green, and walk on down the cobbles, towards the station. I pass my old school. I can see the chalkboards, still there after all these years. In my childhood, I always used to say what a horrible place it was. The teachers used to beat us regular as clockwork, and the meals were dreadfully poor. We would recite our times tables every morning, right up to twelve. Now, I will never forget how helpful it was to me, how it helped me become an engineer. I look inside one last time, into the dark, deserted classroom, and pull myself onward.

I’m going under the bridge. The grey cut stones stand firm above me, and I can hear the unmistakeable sound of the locomotive on its way. The wonderful ‘chug-chug-chug-chug’ that is my masterpiece. I must hurry, or I’ll miss it. I walk round the corner to the ancient station, and onto the deserted platform.

This station is closed now. The goods yard is overgrown and derelict, and the platforms are covered in thickets. I turn to see the train. I have arrived just in time.

There it is, coming round the corner now, the wonderful green paint glistening inthe evening sun. The ‘Flying Scotsman’, the greatest steam locomotive ever built. It has just been polished, as if they knew I would be here. The name plate proudly displays the famous words on the side. I am so proud to have been part of its creation. It will not stop for me, but I can watch it as it goes away, never to be seen again by any of its creators. They have all gone now – I am the last.

Soon, we will all be gone.

I take my hat off as it thunders through the station. I’m sure the driver whistles to me as he passes. The beautiful teak carriages make their way proudly down the platform. All the time I am watching the ‘Scotsman’, longing for it to stay a while longer so I can touch the wonderful green paint. But in a few seconds, it is gone.


As I watch the last carriage disappear into the trees, the sun goes down a little further. And I have one more place to go. I leave the station and continue out of the village, through fields and over streams, making my way towards a small farmhouse at the top of a field of horses. One of the horses looks up at me as I pass, and we share a moment of sadness together before he continues his evening meal. He has a beautifully brushed brown coat that glistens in the receding light. He sniffs and pats the ground as his tail swishes peacefully.

The horses belong to my daughter. I will never see her again. I will miss her beautiful smile, and the way she laughed when we talked together. The house will be hers. That will be my gift to her. The thatched roof and the country kitchen. It will all be hers to do with as she pleases. I’m sure she will look after it well, just as she looked after me in my final years.

I open the wooden door of the cottage and walk inside. It feels lovely and warm – a fire is burning in the next room. I hang up my coat and hat, take one last breath of fresh air, and shut the door behind me. I go into the old kitchen and pour myself a glass of my finest wine. It is a beautiful wine that was bought for me by my father before he died. I vowed that I would only drink it on the most special of occasions, that I would save it as long as I possibly could. I pour out the last drop of red and take it into the living room. I sit in my armchair by the fire. My father used to sit in this chair with a glass of wine every evening. He would sit here and tell us an exciting story about the war that he so bravely fought in. Over the years, I loved my dad more and more. Then he was taken from me, as I am being taken from my children.

I throw the last log onto the dying fire. It crackles and spits at me, trying to tell me that it’s tired of warming the cottage. It’s all right, fire. Soon, you will sleep.

The wall is covered with photographs from my past and present. My daughter and her horse; my son with his uniform on – how proud he looks; and Sophie.

Oh, Sophie, the most wonderful woman in the world. I told her I would be with her soon. Now, I am fulfilling my promise. I will see her again.

I take a sip of wine. Wonderful. It warms my bones more than the fire ever could. The flavour flows round my body like blood, immersing me in a bath of glorious warmth.

I pick up the photographs of my family on the table beside me, and kiss them, one by one. ‘I will see you all again soon, my dears,’ I whisper. ‘Very soon.’ I take one last sip of wine and put it on the table with the photographs. I then take two letters out of my pocket, addressed to my son and my daughter, and lean them against their photographs. They tell of my adventures, and the adventures I wish them to have. I want them both to lead the most wonderful lives. They will see the world, and bring some of it back for their children.

The sun has disappeared, and the moon will soon emerge from behind the moors. I take a final look at my world, then close my eyes and lean back, resting my head on the back of my father’s chair. I think of all the wonderful things I have done in my life – my schooling, and my life working on the railways. Oh, please don’t take the railways away. They bring joy to the lives of so many people. They are wonderful feats of engineering, built through some of the most beautiful countryside in the world. They can never be destroyed.

I remember all the things everyone has done for me in the past few days. I have visited the most wonderful places anyone could imagine. My daughter took me to see London. We travelled on the London and North-Eastern Railway behind ‘Mallard’- the fastest steam engine ever built. And my son took me to the Whitby-Pickering railway. Oh, the most beautiful railway in the world. Goathland station is quite possibly the most wonderful ever built. The countryside surrounding the line is stunning. Nobody will ever find a better place to run a steam train, or, indeed, a railway.

I take one last breath of glorious air. It fills me just like the beautiful wine. The fire spits and crackles one last time, telling me that it is time. I can hear my fieldfare outside, and the ‘Flying Scotsman’ whistles its last goodbye.

I have never felt better.

By Peter Bryant

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