a dream I had, just before waking this morning
When the train finally pulled up she could see clearly into all of the train cars’ windows.
But the cars were completely filled with people; only one train car remained pristine and untouched. Its furniture, its appointments, were elegant and polished to a high shine. The velvet-padded chairs looked so warm and inviting.
The pregnant woman asked the porter: What do you mean, there are no open seats? What about that room with the velvet chairs?
No one sits there, said the porter, because that train car in particular is under a curse.
That’s ridiculous, the woman said. There’s no such thing as curses. What harm could come from sitting in such a beautiful room?
It is told, the porter said urgently and ardently, that anyone who steps into that car will instantly be placed with an incurable, irretrievable grief for the one thing they have lost --- and will never have again.
She considered this. She could hear the din in the distance, the sound of danger. It was the only way to protect her child, and she would, she knew, take it. She gave the porter her ticket, and against his cries of dismay, stepped resolutely into the elegant but cursed room. The other travelers grew very hushed, awed or fearful either one.
The door slid closed behind her with a firm click.
The train ground forward again, grating and insistent, carrying the woman -- and the other travelers -- ahead into their unknown destinations, their personal aims and travel plans. Try as they might, the other passengers craning their necks for a better glimpse through the doors never did see her face; the only one who did was a man walking home from his night shift, sauntering at an easy pace through a field and humming a little as he swung his heavy black metal lunch pail.
He saw the yellowish-white streams of light trailing in a blur as the train swept through, and the one car at the end sitting empty save for one anguished woman staring into her own reflection in the window, staring at herself blankly -- as if searching for someone who was no longer there.