The memories of the trains that traveled through the woods had long been forgotten by all but the wilderness it had penetrated. The compacted ground beneath the rail bed that would forever bare the strength imparted by years of trains passing above would serve as the foundation of nature’s reminder for centuries. While the path was covered with grass, the cinders and hard ground kept the forest from forgetting its past. The underbrush grew to the edge of where the steel rails had lived and surrendered their advance as if showing respect for the hallowed path that had built the little town it served.
Ghosts of the whistles that announced the arrival of each train to the little town still found time to echo through the wood. Visitors, that knew not where they tread, still heard the train whistle dancing through the trees and playfully singing with the calls of the birds but, when a friend of the forest was present, the ghosts remained silent. The forest would forever remember the whistle; it had been there for more than a century. But, when someone from the town came to visit the path, the whistle hid like a child beneath the covers in a thunderstorm; only returning once the fear had passed.
In early spring, birds lined the edge of the old rail bed to soak in the sunlight that penetrated the dense tree growth. Their song filled the cool path’s break with a glory that only a sun slowly breaking storm clouds can imitate.
Today, a blue jay found footing on a branch and stopped to listen to the ghost’s song. She listened and, as if hearing the whistle’s song, replied with a single note. After her solitary tone and with a flick of her head that said she heard no reply, she flew off again in search of another song.
And, the ghost smiled.