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Fiction in a minute: Train

The cameraman said “rolling” and the red light over the lens glowed. The blond antiques appraiser slid his mirrored compact into his pocket and looked at Howard expectantly.

“What did you bring to the show today?”

“Train set. My father’s. He said it was the only thing he would save if the house was on fire,” Howard said. “He wouldn’t let us play with it.”

“Sentimental value,” the appraiser said, as an explanation.

Howard swallowed nervous laughter. His father was not sentimental.

“It’s a cast iron train, early 20th century. Made by Ives, the precursor to Lionel Trains. You’ve heard of Lionel?”

Howard nodded, bored. They’d already told him this. He was just waiting for the magic words.

“It’s worth about 300 dollars,” the man said, his smile bright as the cameraman’s lights.

Howard hid his disappointment and blinked. He’d assumed it was worth thousands of dollars, not hundreds. That assumption was how he reconciled his father’s adoration of this train above any artifact from Howard’s childhood. Above pictures of his mother. Now he knew the truth, and all he wanted was to get rid of it.

“Hmm,” Howard said. “Wanna buy it?”

“That’s not the way it works,” the appraiser said.


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