The sound woke Lorna with a jolt and her head turned sharply towards the window, fully expecting to see a horrific sight outside. Slowly, her pulse returned to normal as she realised it was just a fellow passenger shutting a tray. The eerily foggy, bland country flew past and Lorna stared blankly at it, her mind forever working at drawing parallels between the place she had left behind and the place she was travelling to.
A medley of emotions seemed to be clamouring for her attention, and she chose to ignore all of them and focus instead on the slightly cute boy a little further down the train…but of course, he reminded her of her little brother and she instead lapsed into a reminiscent memory of their first train trip together, when he’d spent most of the time with his nose pressed against the window and the remaining time drawing what he’d seen. They always knew he’d be an artist, because he was drawing imaginary worlds rather than playing in them when he was a toddler.
The sudden presence of the conductor snapped Lorna out of her 13 year old self and back into her 25 year old self, and she laughed and joked with him until he’d moved on, returning finally to a fitful state of half-rest. When she awoke, she would be in a new place with a new mission and no time to remember Robert and his child-like wonder at the world around him. Her wonder had been lost long ago, and in many ways she was glad of it because it made what she was about to do a whole lot easier.
In the meantime, the train trundled on, lives were lived outside its walls, and a family way back in the North took down their ‘congratulations’ banners with a heavy heart and a tear in their eyes.