November 5th, 2013, 3pm

It was 11°C with overcast. The breeze was gentle.

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This laughably absurd situation that is night trains. On the way to Paris yesterday evening, every car is full of growly old beards and ugly couples, but not mine. Mine contains a thread-thin young man with mad hair and an old t-shirt, my age, equally as shocked to receive me as I am to be received. A comrade in arms! In youth! He looks visibly alarmed. Pushes the ladder nervously from side-to-side along my bunk, an impossible gesture of facilitation, as there is no room to be made for me. The space is compact, gray, staggeringly intimate in proportion. Our beds are inches away from each other.

We talk dreamily into the night.

When I wake up at seven the conductor is already announcing the approaching city. Paris! My comrade is gone, but I remember falling asleep — that he quietly took the book from my slouching hands, removed the glasses from my pillow, put them both in the netted wall pocket behind my head, designed exclusively for this purpose. That was the last and only memory.

No, there is one more:

At midnight, in Toulouse, a young couple and a child. They entered the room lightlessly, just the dim glow of a single bulb above the bottom bed. The girl’s round face, like a butter pat in the low, gold light, craning up to see her Daddy on the top bunk, blowing him little kisses goodnight. Then asleep.

That’s all I remember, and nothing else.

The sweetest train car, rocking away into the night, ten hours long, one hour in Toulouse, where they joined two lines of steamy vehicles — one from Perpignan, one from Marseille — and sent us off together.

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Cassie Marketos

Community Manager at Hi. Traveling. Writing! Will send invites generously. Just ping @sayhi.

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