Friday, August 28, 2015

Daily Sketches. #26 Train (Excerpt)

Write about a train. Did you ever traveled by train? If not, what do you think it would feel like? Write about a character who’s traveling by train if you prefer.

Trans Siberian Crush

Marusya curled up on the upper shelf of their train compartment, with Matveika sleeping on the other upper shelf, and their parents occupying the two lower shelves. Funny how they call these beds shelves, as if the passengers were nothing but stuff being neatly put away, so they don’t disturb the machinist, conductors and their important journey. Marusya’s thoughts were slipping away as the train went choo… choo… chooga chooga… choooo…. in a steady rhythm that seemed to be designed to make you sleepy. As her eye lids were getting heavy, vague memories of her very first journey with Matveika and their mom crept into her drowsy mind. Marusya had just turned seven and was about to begin school the following fall, as mom took the kids to visit their grandma in a far away land which by now is another country – babushka lived in Ukraine for a few brief years. They were also visiting the Black Sea and Crimea and all sorts of places with strange sounding names that Marusya had never heard before that trip, other than maybe occasionally in the national TV news which to her sounded just about the same as adult conversations in Peanut cartoons: "whua whua whua, whua whuaaaaa…"

There was something else Marusya encountered for the first time in her seven year old life on that journey – the weird, unfamiliar longing for someone she barely knew whom she'd met on that first train trip. He was 22, blond with blue eyes and a cheerful smile, tall, or at least he seemed so to Marusya, slender; and the two young conductors, students who took it as a seasonal job, brought him everything in doubles – two blankets instead of one, two spoons and two cups of tea. The cups looked exotic: glasses dressed in silver “jackets”, which seemed somehow to be in the Turkish manner, Marusya thought. “They do love you”, their talkative fellow traveler, a woman in her 60s, said out loud to the handsome young traveler. The woman who’d tell them funny stories from her life calling her husband grandpa, slept enviably deeply at night and produced the loudest noise Marusya had ever heard, and the 22 year old neighbor who slept on the upper shelf just above her, would look down, hanging above the snoring woman and Marusya, and say in a naughty voice, as a kid who knew he’d be told-off or even mildly punished if he ever was found for doing it, and yet dared to do it anyway, “Auntie, don’t snore... Auntieee...” And then they both giggled, and it was pure happiness. That pattern repeated both nights during which the cute neighbor shared their compartment, and then it was his city, his station, Marusya still remembered the name of it that seemed short and abrupt as she heard for the first time then - Omsk. In the same cheerful friendly manner, he took all his belongings and left the train, blending in with the busy train station crowd. Mom and the snoring auntie went out to buy some warm boiled potatoes wrapped in plastic bags and home made pickles which you could find on any big or little station along the Trans Siberian Railway.

“What happened? Did you fall down? Anything hurts?” asked mom when she came back, as tears went down Marusya’s cheeks. She only shook her head. Nothing was hurt. Her arms, knees, feet were all just fine. And yet after the cheerful traveler left, there, in her little heart, a big hole quickly formed. She had no idea what to do with the hole. She wanted to get off the train and run to the station to find him. She probably wouldn't know what to say or what to do if she'd found him, other than just stare at him with a happy gaze. He was 22 and married, and he lived in a city with an abrupt, unfriendly name Omsk which she did not know existed two days before. She was 7 and did not know that that big hole in her heart was something people have when they miss someone they love.

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  1. Ohh, first crush. This is so sweet, and I bet the trip went by so fast for her, and then slowed way down.

    1. It's very insightful about the trip going fast and then slowing down, Sam, I must remember this when I make this into a full story! Thank you for such an insightful comment.