Of course her sleeping compartment would have to be the last car on the train. If she had known she would have walked to that compartment outside the train where there was more room. It was surprising to her how no one had even bothered to offer to help her. Everyone was busy settling in with their own suitcases. Oh WHY had she not packed lighter??? It was too late now and she was finally in her compartment. "Now"... she wondered... "Who will be my roomie for this trip???"
Barbara didn't have long to wait. She had just gotten her luggage settled when the door of her compartment opened. A man backed his way through the door pulling his luggage into the tiny compartment. A man??? She had never shared a compartment with a man before. She had shared with an elderly lady who talked the whole time about her dead husband. Her next trip was spent holding a screaming baby, that was NOT her own, because its' mother was sick in the bathroom from the movement of the train. Her trip last year was made alone. She had time to read a book and rest. Barbara had to admit she was glad to have company this trip. Even if it WAS a man. But... this MUST be a mistake.
The man was a little older than herself and quite good looking. Maybe this trip wasn't going to be so bad after all. He saw her looking at him and she blushed.
"Oh... I must have the wrong compartment," he said looking at his ticket. "Hum... nope. This is it. I didn't realize I would be bunking with a woman. These new modern trains have new modern rules I suppose. I'll get the train attendant to see if I can bunk in another room."
Barbara's heart stopped beating for a second. She didn't want him to leave but it WAS the gentlemanly thing to do. Was it possible that chivalry was not dead? She nodded to the man and watched him push the call button for the attendant. She realized she had not said a word. She should say something.
"Thank you... my name is Barbara," she said timidly. She held out her hand to shake his and he did something that amazed her.... He KISSED her hand! "My you ARE a gentleman," she managed to say.
"Yes, ma'am... Born and raised in the country. My parents have taught me well how to treat a lady." He smiled and winked as he spoke and the whole room seemed to light up. "My name is Mike... I'm heading home after being overseas for a year. It will be good to be backing home. I can feel my bed calling me already." He laughed.
The attendant arrived and Mike found out that the train was booked full. No spare compartments were available. He looked at Barbara and the two shrugged. To herself Barbara whispered and thanked the lord. This trip was getting better and better all the time.
"O.k." Mike told the attendant. "We will manage. Thank you for your time." The attendant apologized again and told Mike that if a compartment became available, HE would be the first to know and left the room. "I guess I'm your roomie for the next 2 days," he smiled at Barbara. "We will manage."
For two days they talked and ate together. He was really quite pleasant to talk to. He had been overseas in Iraq. He told of his adventures and Barbara told him all about the city she lived in. They were complete opposites.
When the two days were up Barbara wished him well and the two parted their ways. He had not asked for her phone number and she had not offered it. It had been a pleasant trip. She made a mental note to casually ask her grandparents if they knew of Mike and his family.
As she looked out the train window the scenery about her became familiar. She had been to the farm several times and each time the trip had been different. The first year she had visited her grandparents there had been snow on the ground. She spent the whole visit wrapped in a blanket. Of course the furnace had stopped working right before her visit. She shivered remembering THAT trip. The second year was a little better because it had been summer. She loved summer... but that year was hot. There had been record temperatures and it stayed over 90 degrees the whole trip and the farmhouse did NOT have air-conditioning. Last year she had made the decision to visit her grandparents in the spring. THAT was the worse year of the 3. It had been raining before she got to the farm and it never stopped. She spent the week as a muddy mess. When she got home, it took a week to wash out all the mud in her hair. Hopefully this year would be different but she wasn't counting on it. Oh how she hated the country.
This year she had picked autumn to visit her grandparents... Not too cold... not too hot... not too rainy... she hoped, fingers crossed. The sun was setting as the taxi made its way up the long driveway to the farmhouse. The corn stalks were brown and the wheat field swayed in the early evening sunset breeze. The air smelled fresh and clean. Her nose made its way to the open window of the taxi. Was she... smiling????