He sat in a tree not far from the rail line, hands behind his head, one leg draped lazily over the branch. His gaze was locked firmly upon the railroad, waiting as a mist slowly fall upon the structure. He slowly lifted a hand to brush a lock of hair away from his face. The time was almost right.
He checked the watch on his right wrist, two minutes past the hour. The train always comes at ten past.
A young woman appeared out of the mist from the left. She walked confidently along the right rail. Feet placed one in front of the other going down the single stretch of iron, her arms held out to the sides. Dew from the mist shimmered on her form and her thin white gown shifted around her legs as she moved.
He watched her walk along, unworried, it was the same every year.
The thin wraith continued along her path, every motion predetermined. Her gaze only flicked to him once, her eyes glazed and unfocused. They settled on him for an instant and she nodded a greeting.
He nodded back, slightly inclining his head and slowly blinking his eyes.
Eight minutes past the hour.
He shifted his position now, having almost gone numb on the left side of his body, arms resting on his knees, legs drawn tightly up to his chest, leaning slightly forward, grey eyes peering out from his thick lashes, watching her intently.
She paused for a moment in her walk, balancing on the edge of the track, arms held stifly out. Her legs were wavering slightly as she struggled to keep her balance, eyes closed and her chin tilted defiantly up, and waiting.
Ten past the hour.
The train was upon them in an instant. Faster than anyone could blink. There was no warning, no horn. No pain. There was an eruption of sound that filled the air for a single moment before fading into the trees, once again leaving the whole world in a deathly silence.
The train lay on its side, a smoking wreck. Steam rose from it at its joints and from the boiler, the tree a splinted pile, flames leaping along its length the tongues lapping at the branches. Nothing moved. Nobody exited the train at any point along its length. Nobody helped the still forms that had been flung from their perches.
Fifteen past the hour.
Two crosses stand at the side of the road. Over grown with time as the forest slowly reclaims its prize. A fresh bouquet of flowers resting beside the wooden monuments.
The girl looks down upon the flowers and tentively reaches out to stoke a single petal, frowning when she can't. A single tear rolls down her face as she turns to the boy in the tree. It has grown back, all the stronger for the fateful day, its leaves in full color. A smile brushes across her lips, the meaning clear: Until next year.
Twenty past the hour.