Eleanor | Quick Piece

The train pulled up to the station and a wave of air hit me. My hair blew around wildly and I quickly brushed it away. “Where are you headed off to?” this older lady said. She was carrying a bright red suitcase and a floral handbag. Her lipstick shone on her lips and she looked like an older version of Carmen Sandiego. “I’m just heading home. It’s break for me.” I said. The conductor started directing where to sit based on the stops. “Where’s home?” She asked, walking along with me. Her suitcase bumped along the ridges, threatening to fall into the space. “Oh, it’s just the fifth stop. It’s the town by the river.” I said, hoping that she got off before me. “Hey! I get off there too! That’s great! She noted. “Maybe we can sit together!” We hauled our suitcase over the gap and into the car, looking for a suitable location in the train. “How about this one? Do you want the window seat?” She said. I nodded and struggled to stow away my suitcase. In one swoop, she chucked the suitcase into the overhead compartment without difficulties. I shuffled to the window seat and got ready to doze off when she suddenly blurted out “I’m not actually going home! I’m actually going on an adventure! You can keep that secret between the two of us.” To be honest, I wasn’t even surprised. She just looked like someone who never settled down. I muttered, “I’m not surprised. You just looked like someone who isn’t afraid of anything.” She turned and leaned towards me. “What? You really think so?” I nodded and closed my eyes. Hopefully she got the idea that I was pretty tired and wanted to rest. She turned away and faced the window, muttering only so I could hear. “That’s the first time someone said that.”

My nap consisted of my head bobbing up and down. Whenever I looked over at her, she remained either fixated on the scenery or her eyes scanning over a book. I watched her gold earrings bob up and down to the gentle swaying of the train. What was her story? I didn’t even know her name or why she decided to have an adventure at my hometown. There wasn’t even anything to do at home besides a famous restaurant that was featured on the Food Channel. Otherwise, it was a quiet town. It was as if she could hear my thoughts and she woke up. “Man, that was a great nap!” she turned towards me and smiled. I felt a wave of warmth flood through me and wondered if my own smile could do the same. I smiled back at her and said, “Yeah, I took a much deserved nap too!” She laughed and stretched, her earrings clinking around. A couple moments of silence drifted by us, but I paid no attention to it. Even if she was a stranger, I felt comfortable. I didn’t find it necessary to constantly have to fill in the gaps with senseless questions. We just sat side bye side admiring the view outside the window or the passengers passing by us. She broke the silence by asking for my name. “No, don’t be embarrassed! I’m Amelia.” I said while extending my hand. She shook my hand with a firm grip and told me that her name was Eleanor. I watched her every movement as she told me about how her mother picked that name for her and the name most certainly fit her very well. We sat in silence once again and listened to the gentle rumbling and rocking of the train.

When I woke up, she wasn’t in her seat, but I wasn’t too worried. I think I remember her mentioning that she wanted to grab something. “Hey, you’re awake! Our stop is in about an hour and you looked like you were high in the clouds. I was afraid that you might sleep too long and I would have to wake you up! Trust me, you don’t want me to wake you up!” she guffawed, her coffee threatening to leap out of the cup and I shook with laughter. I could see her hollering at me and startling me and plenty of passengers as well. She wiped the tears from her eyes and gently said to me, “You have a lovely smile, but I can tell you don’t use it enough.” I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. This time, the silence that passed between us was awkward. “Thank you? Thank you, Eleanor.” I stammered. I felt terrible. She wouldn’t even think that I was taking her seriously. She clasped her hand on my arm, her nails streaked with red nail polish and said with such depth; tears almost welled up in my eyes. “Dearie, don’t underestimate yourself. You’re a mighty woman and don’t let anyone else tell you anything less.” She smiled a radiant smile at me and closed her eyes.

An hour later, we arrived at our stop. Wordlessly, she hauled my suitcase down along with her own in one smooth swoop. At the platform, I waved good-bye to her and she disappeared into the crowd just like how I met her. Where and why she was headed this way, it was beyond me. I’ll always be grateful for Eleanor, who I met on my train home since she taught me a lesson I never forgot in my years to come. As I separated from the group, I spotted my dad and I erupted into a smile. “Hey! I missed you! Did you do something different? You look even prettier than I remember when I dropped you off!” my dad noted while taking my suitcase from me. I shook my head and smiled again, “Nope, it’s just me.”