The two-hour drive to the train station in Edmonton was fraught with apprehension and anticipation. I was letting this person into my life and my house and what did I know of him? We had spent less than 20 days together and we were now looking at what? Forever? How were we to know? What if it didn’t work out – where would he go? I’m sure he had gone through all of this before he had asked me if he could move here, but I had said yes without thinking about it. I had said yes as a gut reaction to missing him and always wishing for the end of his schooling. And now today was the day where we had to face each other and our future together.
I arrived at the station just as they announced the arrival of D’s train. Standing on the platform I searched the faces that descended and watched as couples threw themselves into each other’s arms and kissed. I felt like I was in a movie that was set in the 40’s and I was waiting for my man to get off the train. While the smoke billowed from the steam engine that huffed and puffed, I looked fetching in my hat and straight skirt and peephole shoes. In reality my slacks were slightly pilled around the pockets where I hid my hands when I was nervous, and I had been wearing my top for a couple of years and it was beginning to show. But I did look anxiously about like the frantic heroine – my eyes searching each stranger, a pucker forming between my eyebrows.
A train-car away a tall thin stranger stepped down onto the platform and flashed me a weary smile. Cocking my head I looked him over carefully, not sure if it was D or not. He had lost an incredible amount of weight and the skin around his eyes looked bruised and dark. His hair was longer, but it still smelled like pears when a blast of air from the engines blew it across my face. I knew for sure that it was him when he bent his head and kissed me softly and hesitantly. I just knew.
The drive back was a long story about the sights and thrills of traveling across Canada by train. When we pulled into the mall parking lot, D had just about finished his tale. When we walked into the store together, my mother looked up in surprise before asking him what he was doing back.
“I’ve decided to move here permanently and I just got off the train in Edmonton.” He looked down and smiled kindly at my mother who was almost a foot and a half shorter than him. She turned her head and shot me a glance that conveyed a million words that didn’t need to be said. I knew what she was thinking.
“So that is why my daughter is late for work then.”
“Yes. She picked me up.”
“How nice for you – but she should have okayed it with me.” I shook my head and walked away.
That night was the opening night of the dinner theater and I had arranged tickets for Cid, D and my mother. D was still in his traveling clothes and he spent some time in the small washroom in the store freshening up. We arrived a bit early and took our seats at the large round table. When Cid appeared at the door, I presented his ticket to the doorman and directed him to our table and sat him next to D. I managed a quick introduction just before the lights went down and we were swept up in the first act.
"Uh Cid. This is D. He just came in on the train and I picked him up this morning in Edmonton."
"This morning? In Edmonton?" He shook D's hand and I could see the questions written all across his face.
When the lights came up for intermission, Cid was staring at me. He looked from me to D and then back at me. My heart ached with the pain that was written across his face. I tried to speak with him at the dessert table but he turned away.
When the play ended, we decided to go to a nearby restaurant for tea. Cid’s face was etched in stone as he watched D get into my car for the short drive to the restaurant. When we arrived at the parking lot – Cid pulled in next to us and rolled down his window.
“I’m not coming in – I’m just going home.”
“Wait!” I said, but he shook his head. “At least let me explain,” I begged.
“I think it is too late for any of that now,” he said and pulled out into the traffic. I let the tears run down my face and didn’t bother hiding them from D.
“He’ll get over it eventually,” D said quietly as he put his arm around me.
I shook my head slowly before I said, “There’s something I have to tell you that happened while you were on the train.”