Pacing from end to end of the platform, keeping warm while I waited. I shook my hands, trying to get the blood flowing. It was another crisp morning. With despair, I felt the first few drops of rain, and stood underneath the scaffold of a nearby hedge, seeking shelter. I really hope that damn train is on time today, I thought. Our line was notorious for delays and cancellations.
I noted the other passengers, all three of them, were eagerly checking their watches and straining for signs of an approaching diesel engine too.
Across the still air, dampened by the wet ground, we heard it. Not a toot, more of a blare. Sounding impatient and eager to get here. Within minutes, we saw the headlights and felt the suction of the wind being drawn toward to the approaching XPT.
4:47am. 2 minutes late, but very good, considering the track record.
I wrenched open the carriage door for Car D. Looking at my ticket, I checked my seat number for the third time. D10. Nope, hadn’t changed since last I looked. Ambling along the narrow aisle I strained to see the seat numbers. The carriage was in full darkness and the lumps of passenger silhouettes, told me everyone was sleeping.
From the other end of the carriage I saw a small beam of light. It was a woman in a NSW Rail uniform, waddling down to assist me.
“What number are you love?” she asked.
I showed her my ticket and she shone the torch towards the correct location.
“Thanks,” I replied, gratefully, however once I got there, I became aware there was a problem. Lying across my seat, and hers, was a young lady, fast asleep. The train began to move, leaving the station. Light from the town street lights flickered on her briefly, illuminating her. She was small and willowy, her clothes shabby and torn. I noticed she appeared thoroughly beaten down by her short time on this earth. Or maybe she was stuck in a mimeomia.
“Um, excuse me, that’s my seat,” I said gently, not wanting to scare her.
“Hello, miss?” I tried again.
Suddenly, from behind me I heard the NSW Rail woman’s voice bark loud and authoritatively, “Sit up now please!”
The girl jumped up, sleepily pulled herself upright into her chair and mumbled an apology.
Cringing with embarrassment, I took my seat. The train rocked and swayed, dancing with the tracks as we sped our way to Melbourne. I pulled out a nectarine from my backpack and proceeded to wolf it down. A meagre breakfast substitute until the buffet car opened at 6am.
In the seclusion of my mind, I wondered what else the day ahead would bring.
By Sarah ©2017
Image courtesy of Pixabay
* Mimeomia (n.) the frustration of knowing how easily you fit into a stereotype, even if you never intended to, even if it’s unfair, even if everyone else feels the same way—each of us trick-or-treating for money and respect and attention, wearing a safe and predictable costume because we’re tired of answering the question, “What are you supposed to be?”
Words used: blood, scaffold, despair, seek(ing), nectarine, wolf, woman, willowy, aware, beaten