When she got back to the station, the entire population was standing idly by as the last few people waited for their turn to honor Benedict. Each one of the final stories got shorter and shorter, as the embarrassment of speaking in front of the entire populace began to outweigh the need for closure.
Standing in place with the other heads of the families, Sarah waited patiently. She saw her mother and father in the crowd off to the side, standing hand-in-hand with their heads held high behind her tiny grandmother, who looked older and sicklier than Sarah had ever seen her before. The young woman who had found herself alone on the train was now looking older than her considerable years, as if the weight of her life had finally caught up to her. Benedict had been her pride and joy. Even from a distance, Sarah could see that a light had gone out in her grandmother and Sarah knew that the old woman who had survived so much would never be the same again.
The last man to speak was a small wisp of a man that Sarah did not know personally, but had witnessed working with the same group of three men on the aqueducts whenever they fell into disrepair. He stood and muttered something about a time when he and Benedict drank from the same water bottle on a particularly hot afternoon, and then exited the platform as quickly as possible, with a red face.
It was then that Martin Pole, the leader of the Pole family and the grandson of the train conductor that had locked the gates on that fateful night, walked to the center of the stage and the loud mummer of the side conversations faded away and all that were present became silent as this last bit a of business, and the end of Benedict’s reign as their beloved leader, came to an end.
Sarah did not hear what Martin said in his introduction of her. She just looked out over the survivors, or at least the ones that had been able to make it to the platform, and tried to memorize their faces. What she saw reflected back was the same feeling of hopelessness that she felt. They look tired and frightened of the future without their beloved leader to plot a course for them. While many of those there knew her, she had to admit she did not know many of them. She wondered if she...
"....Sarah? Would you like to say a few words?" Martin Pole asked a second time, snapping Sarah out of her daze.