I allow myself a deep, satisfied sigh as I place the last section of track down. At last, the little town of Jacksonthorpe is complete.
I take it all in. The little people frozen in their daily comings and goings. The handsome train station. The neatly trimmed trees and undulating greenery of the nearby hills. It’s lambing season – a time to be happy.
I always liked spring. It only seemed fitting.
My wife thought I was obsessive. “I thought you only wanted to play with your trains” – that was how the arguments would usually start. The kids went off to university, and we had some space spare. Why shouldn’t I enjoy it a little bit?
“You’re not living in the real world. You spend more time with those models than me.”
It was her own fault, damn her. Paul was a friend – how could I possibly forgive her after that? “It was only one night,” she said. Then she blamed me for not paying her any attention. I blamed her for going to the conference with Paul. I’d always seen how he looked at her, and how she looked at him.
Sure, she eventually said she was sorry, but how could I get past it? How could I look either of them in the eye again?
In hindsight, I was naive to even try.
So we got stuck in that cycle until the divorce; I kept pushing her away, her resentment kept me distant.
I lost my job, too. “Cut backs”, they said. A smile and a handshake and that was that. Nearly 30 years of loyal service, dismissed in the space of a couple of weeks. At least the settlement package helped with the divorce, and the move.
The rest got spent on expanding Jacksonthorpe. I made it what it is today; a beautiful tribute to the hazy days of my youth, out in the countryside. It might be inspired by happier times long gone, but I gave it its name. I gave it its landscape, it’s people. I might have modelled the bakery on Mister Dinsdale’s, but without me, it simply wouldn’t exist.
I had to leave all my friends behind when I left, and the job market isn’t too kind to someone this close to retirement. The kids sometimes come and visit, but they both have families of their own now. It’s hard for them to find the time, and I don’t want to be a burden.
Besides, Jacksonthorpe’s always been there for me.
And it always will be.
I put the final piece in place; a beautiful model steam locomotive. I even made sure the carriages looked just like the ones I used to ride in as a child.
I flip the switch and breath life into the whole town. It doesn’t matter what’s going on outside anymore; Jacksonthorpe is perfect, and here – I’m God.
I made this world. I nurtured every last detail. Now I’ve given it life.
Lights come on, signals change, and the train starts to inch out of the station. I watch it pick up speed and run around the little looped track for hours.