#2 These Journeys
I don’t sleep well on trains. I don’t know many outside of the bone weary and very young children who do. My husband loved trains, and this is all I can think about as miles pass beneath the great iron wheels.
Hours ago the gas-lights inside the cabins were dimmed by a porter. I suppose this was to help those who could sleep to sleep better. In truth it left me looking at an indistinct reflection of myself in the window. There was nothing but blackness outside, nothing to take away the ghostly pallor of the image looking back at me. Every now and then a distant glow from a cottage window breaks the tableau.
Being on the train only reminded me of my husband, and of going in search of him the rare nights he could not sleep. Often I found him standing above his train tracks, talking to the engine as if talking to a pet, scolding it. His favorite rail cars had names and stories behind them. If I weren’t too tired he’d hold them up one at a time, and give a report: this one came from the orient, that one is carved of ivory and the one over there I stole from the pocket of a king.
Tonight, try as I might, I couldn’t remember the names. I was left digging through my memory, trying to jog it or bring it about by word games. The skin of the ghostly reflection of me pulled tight over cheekbones. I knew that look: reproach and disappointment.