Dec 23, 2008

Train to Tübingen

The sun doesn't come out, on the train ride south. It doesn't come up, break through, shine forth. There're tracks and factories, farmland and frayed frostings of left-over snow, and the train goes south in the morning, into the morning of the first day, but the sun doesn't come.

On the Frankfort platform, platform six, the day is gray. Moving south, into some trees that are tall and thin and let the light filter in, the day is gray but the gray gets lighter, washing out until it's just translucent dingy sky.

A boy helps his mother into a long plush coat. Two women have their mullets dyed hot pink in exactly the same spots. Someone, somewhere, has coffee, and the smell comes down the length of the moving train. Two girls, behind me, talk all the way and I eavesdrop only as a technicality, since I don't understand any of this. The boy across from me kisses the girl with the big nose for four stops straight, without breathing, and then when she gets off, she looks at him through the window and smiles. She gives a self-conscious little wave.

I wake up when my book falls to the floor. I wake up knowing I'm on a train, but not knowing where the train is, or where it's going or where it's been. My book -- a little hardback -- starts to slide with a turn and I touch it with a toe, holding it. Somewhere, somebody laughs. I assume it's at me. Though logically it can't be, I assume.

I get off the train when everyone gets off and go to try to read the map. This is some sort of end, or anyway the cars all emptied here. The sky is variegated in versions of gray. The edges are turning like bad milk in coffee. I'm trying to see if I missed my stop and have to go back. The sign doesn't say where we are, in the agat type lists of locations and little boxes. But then I hear it.

I don't believe it. But I hear it. I turn around, not knowing where to look and, exhausted so I'm having trouble even seeing, I'm sort of shuffle-stomping, looking, I'm sure, like a blind elephant, and then there she is. Beth with a big grin. Beth bundled up until all I can see is her big smile and giant eyes and then she hugs me and says, "you're here. I can't believe it. Oh you're here."