Mr. Price worked furiously on the house when he and Miss Collins first moved in. He polished the floor boards and reworked the wooden trim around the windows and doors. He hauled in a few pieces of bartered bedroom furniture along with two halfway decent twin mattresses and small tawny-colored couch he discovered nearly free at a local garage sale. In the bathroom, Mr. Price retiled the floors in a light beige porcelain and hung sheets of faded copper & semi-chocolate wallpaper down the hall. He then refinished the countertops and stained the kitchen cabinets, replaced the front and back doors, patched up the leaks in the roof, cleaned up the shed out back, and painted the house a modest brown all in the course of six short months.
Miss Collins sat on a wooden rocking chair most nights reading her Bible in silence and watching Mr. Price work. He worked on such a high level of concentration that he rarely noticed Miss Collins sitting there in the quiet dark of the living room. He'd sometimes come across her quickly in between jobs and ask a question or inquire about her well-being, but sooner would he be on his way and out of sight than could she provide a thoughtful answer. During the long hours of the day, while Mr. Price was away from the house at work, Miss Collins would find herself staring out the front window at the rusty old railroad tracks across the road. She wanted badly for a train to come rolling by one day so she could hear the screeching sound of the flanged wheels grinding away at the heavy iron rails. She imagined there to be people on the train, in and outside of the boxcars, hanging from the sliding doors and waving their hands at folks along the basin. There were times when she thought she heard the faint distant rumble of the ground shaking and the steady hum of the cold steel friction working its way toward the house. She told Mr. Collins one night about the trains being up and running again. He laughed and told her those trains hadn't run in twenty years.