She sat on the train and twiddled her thumbs and tried not to let the rhythm of the wheels on the rails make her fall asleep. When she came close, she would rub her tongue against the roof of her mouth, shift in her seat, button or unbutton her coat, depending on how it was. Once, she had gone up to the dining car and gotten a cup of tea. It still sat in the little cup holder, now nothing more than cold gray water.
Outside it had been raining for miles. She had begun to believe that the whole country was covered in a single rain cloud. Coast to coast covered with a gray blanket and fat, cold drops. It had been slowly letting a bit, though, hadn’t it? Yes. She was sure it had been raining much harder when the train had left the first station. The gray had been darker. Now it was light, and though it was still raining it was barely harder than drizzle.
She sat up. She had been falling asleep again. It was another two hours to her stop but she didn’t care. She hated sleeping on trains. That open feeling that felt so cozy and childish in her own home just made her feel vulnerable in public. It was a crowded car. She had nothing worth stealing, and she doubted any creep would come up and try to…do something with so many people around. But who knew. There were plenty of creeps, and you didn’t know you were talking to one until it was too late. Apparently, there were a lot of things you didn’t realize until it was too late.
The forward motion of the train, that was what she had to keep focused on. Every mile of track the train glided over felt like progress. Somewhere behind her, miles behind her now, was the bad life. The life that didn’t work. The job she hated and the little apartment that had stifled her and Moira. Oh, Moira. Everything had seemed so perfect in the beginning. But something you just don’t realize until it’s too late. She almost wished something big had happened. Moira cheating, Moira hitting her, Moira calling her fat or being mean. But none of that had happened. Moira was a good person. But Moira wasn’t good for her, and she wasn’t good for Moira, and neither of them had wanted to admit it for a very long time. They had stayed together as all the colors drained from their life until there was nothing left but black. The absence of colors.
She glanced at her phone. Habit. It was off. Had been off since the last time Moira had called her. There was nothing to say, and she didn’t know how to say it. She had sent a single text, white letters in a black space. I’m okay, goodbye. It wasn’t enough. But for now, it would have to be.
The train was getting warm, now, warm enough to lull her to sleep. Careful to not brush against the woman sitting next to her, she pulled off her sweater, leaving her to her white t-shirt. She hadn’t bothered with packing. She might be going back, after all this. The biggest gamble of her life. But it felt right. With careful motions she folded the sweater in front of her, and let herself dream of Alex.
They had shared a single class together in college. She had loved him after knowing him for half an hour. And she knew he loved her. It was impossible to miss that look in his eyes. But live moves on. Kids are stupid, and they had been no different. They had both left that miserable college town to have their own lives, their own careers. They had given it up because it had seemed too hard. But looking back, loving Alex had been the easiest thing in her life. Everything else since had been harder. Even in the beginning, with Moira, it hadn’t been as easy as with Alex.
What if he didn’t remember her? What if he did, but no longer loved her? What if there was someone else? None of it mattered. What mattered was trying. She knew where he was. She was going to show up, and she was going to try. And if it didn’t work, well, no one said she had to go home.
She watched the gray and the rain, and looked for a break in the clouds.