observations on life

The Woman on the Train: A guest essay

Written by my friend Teresa Misco, the most brilliant and hilarious writer I know.  Teresa has a tendency to let her imagination run away with her, but in a different direction than The Girl On The Train:
I was asleep in my own little train roomette aboard the #91 Silver Star-Orlando to Petersburg, when I woke up to complete stillness. All movement on the Silver Star had ceased. No light, no air, no anything at all,  except pitch blackness outside my window. I could make out an eerie silhouette of trees in the distance.  It had to be past midnight, I thought, and I was alone in an abandoned train in the middle of nowhere. This must be the work of terrorists, I thought.  The fuckers have taken over the train. This is why I quit flying, I thought.  My worst fears had come true.
I had to come up with a plan of escape, I thought.   Within two minutes, I was wide awake, slipping into my brand new running shoes.  My husband had snobbishly referred to them as shoes that are too expensive for a person who refuses to run.  Well, in the next two minutes, I would be running.  I smirked when I thought this.  I had a plan taking shape inside my mind.  No way would I expose myself by running for the emergency exits.  The enemy would be expecting that.  Since I am not by nature, a confrontational person, I always prefer going out the back way, so to speak.  So that would be my modus operandi.  Furthermore, I was always prepared, I had a habit of anticipating emergencies.  At the beginning of the trip, I had examined the red latch on the window above my seat.  “In case of emergency, pull this lever,” so forth and so on. I had read the directions, and had, in fact, memorized the information, just in case. Well, the emergency situation was here.  I quickly examined the window.  Well, this will land with a bang, I thought, visions of splintering glass covering me and my leopard print pajamas.  I could certainly handle broken glass, especially while wearing my new running shoes. I smirked again. But I would have no more than a minute to drop the cushions from the small bed out the window, then drop myself and my cellphone onto the cushions, and then run for the trees.
I hesitated for a moment when I thought of the trees.  Alligators. There could be alligators waiting in those woods.  I suspected we were still in Florida, afterall.  I knew alligators preferred water and I could see no water, but I had also heard of alligators crawling out of water, across golf courses in order to snatch marshmallows from the hands of innocent children.  I had even heard of alligators swallowing up children.  I stopped myself, that was too gruesome a thought, I struggled to get myself back on track.  I snickered at my creative play on words.  I could not see water and that possibly indicated the absence of alligators and this provided some comfort in that regard.  I took a deep breath, felt the lever with my left hand, and prepared to move forward with my plan.
But, not being a person who ever leaves a single stone unturned, I decided to venture a quick look into the hallway.  I lifted the corner of the curtain and peered into the dark.  No one was there, but I did see something which puzzled me.  In the distance, a small keyhole of light snaked its way through the endless maze of cars. Well, that is odd, I thought.  I took a deep breath, then froze in fear as a loud buzzing and humming erupted into a burst of cool air that streamed from the vents and quickly filled the space around me.  Then the hall outside my cabin was filled with light, as well as the beginnings of old familiar sounds, the rumbles and metallic clangings which are heard miles and miles away, that accompany old train cars who travel their dull, monotonous journeys across the countryside, in the darkest hours of the night.   And just like that, the old sleeping dragon, the Silver Star roared to life. All thoughts of evildoers vanished in the night, as the Silver Star shivered and ambled towards some distant light. “Huh,” I muttered.  I was exhausted.  So I sat back down on my bed,  I removed my shoes, lay back down and drifted peacefully back to sleep.  And the shrill whistle blew and blew and blew.
The sun was bright the next morning.  It crept through the cracks of  curtains in my roomette.  I slowly ate a warm bagel with cream cheese, prepared for me by the porter in the dining car.  “Did you sleep through the layover last night,” he asked.  “We were out of power for over an hour and a half. Had to get a new engine sent up from Jacksonville, ”  he said.  “Humm,” I replied.  I had slept through all but fifteen minutes of a near catastrophe.
The text message I sent to my husband  was filled with the intrigue of the previous night.
“So, you must of seen what happened on the train in France, ” he said.
“What happened in France?” I demanded.  He paused for a very long time before responding.
“You don’t know?  Maybe it’s better that way,” he replied.

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