The knitting needles went clickety clack, clickety clack. Her grey, wispy hair blew gently in the air conditioning. A happy smile played across her wrinkly face. There was a whoosh as a juggernaut locomotive pulled in to the station. Grandmother Pamela’s knitting was carefully placed back into her calico bag before she leapt to her feet with a sprightly leap.
“Is it my special visitor, Station Master?” Grandmother Pamela asked sweetly.
“So sorry, Grandmother Pamela,” apologized the old man wearing the brown Station Master’s cap.
“Is this not the ten o’clock from Paramata?” asked the grandmother as her wrinkles morphed into a look of confusion.
“No ma’am, ten o’clock is late today,” explained the station master. “This here is a special delivery.”
There was a loud cacophony of trumpeting.
“A pack of pachyderms?” asked Grandmother Pamela with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes ma’am, I’m afraid so,” confirmed the Station Master.
Disappointed the older lady wandered back to sit again and continue her knitting.
Clickety clack, clickety clack went the needles until another steam giant pulled into the station with a fearful whoosh. Again the elderly lady leapt excitedly to her feet.
‘Surely this time,’ she thought to herself.
A distinctly fishy smell made the grandmother pause in the doorway of the little waiting room before she held tightly her nose.
“Still no special visitor?” she asked.
“Walruses I am afraid,” replied the Station Master.
Shaking his head he added, “I must admit it has been the strangest morning...”
The knitting managed to form a neck and one shoulder before the next train pulled in at 10:35. The half pullover vanished again into the calico bag and the elder rose cautiously to her feet.
As she reached the doorway of the waiting room she caught the eye of the Station Master. The man shook his head. Behind him Grandmother Pamela witnessed Zoo officials unloading and herding the largest and ugliest lizards she had ever seen.
“Goannas?” she mouthed.
The Station Master shrugged, unsure.
The knitting needles attacked the pullover with renewed energy generated from utter frustration. Grandmother Pamela sighed as the cool air played with her hair. She missed a stitch and then another and had to undo five minutes worth of work.
“He should be here by now,” she mumbled to herself, knowing it to be true.
The next train pulled in at 10:47 and was pulled by two jet black engines. The smell of burnt coal was thick in the air as the grandmother waddled out to see who or what had just arrived.
As the sounds of the hefty train slowly ceased there was a grunting and a hooting that replaced it. Within three giant cages Grandmother Pamela could see six grey hairy beasts, a troop of gorillas, also on their way to the Zoo she assumed. Once the great beasts were unloaded and the train topped up with precious coal the grandmother watched it pull away with a Tooooo! Toooooo! Chuffa chuffa chuffa chuffa becoming quieter and quieter as it vanished from sight. As she stood upon the station platform in disbelief the elder lady caught the sound of another train approaching. Chuffa chuffa chuffa chuffa. On the horizon and around the bend Grandmother Pamela could see a trail of smoke forming a little cloud. The beast of metal and steam rumbled closer and closer. Tooooo! Toooooo! It blew a gust of heat as it thundered in and screeched to a stop.
“Who is onboard this time?” Grandmother Pamela asked of the Station Master.
He shrugged and checked his clipboard.
“You are NOT going to believe this,” he stated after a shrill whistle and a click of his tongue. “I am not too sure if I believe it.”
Grandmother Pamela did not believe it as she watched nine plump river horses waddle forth from seven carriages. There were three males, three young females and one older female with two calves. With a heartfelt pang the grandmother thought of that special person whom she was waiting for.
“I do hope he comes soon,” she said wistfully.
Her pale pink cardigan rippled as the then empty train pulled away from the station again. Tooooo! Toooooo! Chuffa chuffa chuffa chuffa growing quieter and quieter until it was gone again. Slowly Grandmother Pamela then waddled back to the waiting room and considered a cup of tea.
At 11:05, just over an hour after it was supposed to have arrived Grandmother Pamela was awoken from her nap. Beneath the brown, leathery cap and above his bristly moustache the Station Master had a sly smile. His light purple jacket was smoothed and his whistle was held tightly in his hand, ready for him to blow.
“Grandmother Pamela,” he stated regally. “I believe that the 10 o’clock is finally drawing near.”
“At long last,” said the grandmother as her vanished smile began to magically appear through her wrinkles.
The Station Master found his greatest joy as he discovered that smile reflected in the sea green eyes of the elder woman.
“At long last indeed,” agreed the moustached man.
Grandmother Pamela’s grandson Felix wrapped his little arms around the lady’s neck as he jumped from the carriage. “Grandmother!” he shouted.
“Felix! You are here at last!”
“Grandmother you would not believe it! I was waiting for my train with mummy and daddy and before I could hop on board the train they first loaded so many elephants!” began the grandson with great excitement. “I thought they were for a circus act but then someone told us they were for the zoo…”
“Oh I believe it…” replied the grandmother who was certainly not a goanna.
Hand in hand the pair wandered away from the station as the juggernaut slowly woke again. Slowly but surely the black monster pulled away and began a continuation of its journey eastwards. Tooooo! Tooooo! Chuffa chuffa chuffa chuffa. In turn the boy and his grandmother climbed into her little car. The engine roared into life before it too left the station. All the while Felix continued to tell Grandmother Pamela his unbelievable tale. The Station Master waved them off before he turned back to the great miscellanea of elephants, walrus, goanna, gorillas and hippopotami and sighed.