The Train Ride
A Short Story
B. B. Wright
My day begins in darkness and ends in darkness. The bitter damp wind off Lake Ontario makes me want to hibernate till spring. After another lousy day at work, I was looking forward to some respite on the train ride home. In the middle of quarterly reporting, my mind was abuzz with checking and rechecking the numbers spewed out by our computer. Always a hectic time, it was especially so for me because of my recent advancement to the numero one honcho of this section. The constant flurry of activity in my new role was unrelenting. There was just too little time and so much to learn. And, the swirling craziness of the winter storm outside my window did nothing to alleviate my deepening moroseness. The meteorologists said it was the worst snowstorm to hit Toronto in a century. Ugh!
I should have been basking in the unusually warm temperatures of Vancouver. Not here. Six weeks ago, this damn province hadn’t been on my radar. I miss my walks in Stanley Park. No matter the time of day I traversed it to reach my condominium, it was always a pleasant walk. All of that changed when the person who had occupied this position was fired. And, voila! Here I am in the thick of things. As a single person, a Harvard business grad and highly motivated by money, I should love challenges. And I do. But this takes the cake. The good news? Not more than five minutes ago I was assured by my administrative assistant, Lila, that the other three seasons are simply wonderful. Somehow her comment hit a dead spot in my brain as I glanced out the window.
By the time the big hand hit twelve and the little hand seven on the wall clock, I was walking out the revolving door of the TD building. The roads were congested with traffic so hailing a taxi was out of the question. Sharp pellets of snow sand-blasted my face. The swirling wind uplifted my jacket depositing its bone chilling bite. The profuse drippings from my nose froze solid on my mustache. Damn place! I hunkered below the collar of my jacket. Wishing I had snowshoes, I shielded my face with my briefcase and trudged off to the nearest subway.
Three hours later, the GO train slowly left Union Station. I had taken off my shoes and socks to dry at the wall heater. Since I disembarked at the end of the line in Burlington, I hoped this would provide enough time for them to dry. Though the train was full, I found it strange that no one sat beside me.
Often I tried to catch up on some paperwork during the journey but this evening I decided to veg out and snooze. A slight bump against me and the sweet smell of perfume caused me to open my eyes. To say the person sitting beside me was stunning didn’t do her justice. Cellphone glued to her ear, she carried on an animated conversation apparently oblivious to my presence.
“No Keith …of course I love you.” She said. “There is no one else. I had no choice. I had to work late at the office. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to see you tonight. Oh don’t be such an idiot. This snow storm has locked in the city. I’m lucky to be on this train at all. It’s the last one. Why do you have to be this way? There’s no need for you to be jealous. I’ve told you till I’m blue in the face, he means nothing to me. Only you do.”
Like a ping-pong match, the conversation batted back and forth. I began to wonder about the jerk she was talking to. Then it hit me. Because she was beautiful, he was obviously insecure with her beauty. Since I wanted to get to know her and all’s fair in love and war, I decided right then and there to make my move.
Leaning closer to her and in a voice loud enough for whomever she was talking to to hear, I said: “Hang up and come back to bed.”
The end result wasn’t what I expected. The Go train had to make an unscheduled emergency stop for the paramedics to take me to hospital.
The nasty gash on my forehead stitched up, I sat on the gurney trying to figure out where I would stay the night.
“Are you okay?” she asked. “You always pick up girls with that line?”
I was taken by surprise. Though I was more than pleased to see her, I thought the likelihood of her being there was less than nil. Mouth agape, eyes wide open, I must have appeared like an idiot.
Her smile reassured me as she hesitantly approached the gurney. Sheepishly, I managed to stutter out a reply. “You must admit it is a unique pickup line.”
“If you say so,” she replied, scanning the emergency ward. “But, honestly, I think you could have chosen a much better introduction.”
I don’t remember what we talked about during the next six hours as we sat in the emergency lounge waiting out the storm. We talked about nothing and everything and we laughed a lot. Before she left, she gave me her phone number.
Something indescribable happened during our time together. There’s no single word to describe it. All I knew was I had to see her again. Maybe living here will be alright after all.