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The Burlington Northern Railroad

By Zary Fekete

PROMPT—No one noticed ...

If I had taken a turn earlier, I might have beaten it. As it was, the moment I took the right at the intersection, I could already see the red lights warning me that the train was coming.

Knowing that three minutes would be lost from my day, I flip out my phone and check my email, my Facebook to see if anything interesting has happened. People got married…People have dogs…nothing.

I flick on NPR. The locomotive blows a long blast as it slowly passes. My eyes drift across the first few freight cars as they tick by. Then I hear the NPR reporter literally say the name of the railway the moment my eyes read it on the passing freight car...“Burlington Northern.”

I perk up and listen to the report. Today is the anniversary of the Mount St. Helens volcano eruption. The Burlington Northern Railroad company owned the summit of Mount St. Helens. Since the mountain was destroyed, the company received a stretch of forest land from the government as compensation. The company donated the land to create a national monument where the volcano could be further studied.

The report ends with a brief coda, mentioning the name of Robert Landsburg, the photographer who took the famous photo. He saw the oncoming ash cloud and knew he was going to die. After taking the photos, he rewound the film in his camera and then lay down on top of it in order to protect it from the oncoming ash. His body was found 17 days later. The pictures were fine.

The train is gone now. I guess I can go. But I sit for several more minutes thinking about the photographer. His drive home had been disrupted too.


Zary Fekete has worked as a teacher in Hungary, Moldova, Romania, China, and Cambodia. She currently lives and works as a writer in Minnesota. Some places she has been published in are Goats Milk Mag, JMWW Journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and Zoetic Press. She enjoys reading, podcasts, and long, slow films. Twitter: @ZaryFekete. Zary writes from Dassel, MN.


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