Maybe you will find some nasty words in here but hey, don't everyone talk dirty sometimes? Anyway, this is a story of a young woman, named Grace, who's had a very, and I mean, very bad day. Everything has gotten wrong but on the train heading towards her work she meets Alex and everything changes... into something better. Enjoy!
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Early morning train.
The soothing noise from the train working under me made me sleepy. Things had not gotten very well for me this morning and I could feel my strength just pouring out of my exhausted body. Everything seemed to go wrong, even boiling my egg for breakfast. I didn’t cook it long enough so when I took a bite the yolk ran down, onto my chin and I burned myself. How the fuck can anyone be so stupid? Only me, of course. Everything went shitty for me this morning, but the egg was not the worst. I had gotten myself ready to go to work and the only thing that I had to do left was to feed my dog… if I could find him.
I called his name several times but he never came. After threatening him by eating all his food by myself, I went to search for him. He was nowhere to be found and I was running late… again.
After yelling to an empty apartment, ‘eat when you want to,’ I finally took off.
I ran down my block and was just about to turn in the direction of the train station, when my eyes caught something. In a dark and cold alley I saw a furry hairball that seemed very familiar to me.
At first I just felt relived that I had found him but when I finally got closer to him, I saw that my usually so upbeat energyball was lying dead in a pile of dirt.
My dog, my friend and dear family member that I had known for ages was gone.
I sunk down onto my knees and with a shaky hand I stroked the soft fur as I had so many times before.
I expected that he would be cold to the touch. I mean, that’s what you’ve heard, right? That, when you die your heart can’t pump the blood through your body anymore and you become cold. But he wasn’t cold. He felt like he always had, smooth and silky. It almost looked like he was just sleeping and he would wake up any moment, begging for food with his kind eyes.
I wish he would do that right now but I knew better. He would never wake up again, begging for a snack and whipping you with his tail so it almost hurt.
Tears started to make their way down my flushed cheeks and I quickly brushed them away.
After taking a deep breath, I pulled my friend into my arms and picked him up.
I took him home, laid him down in his warm basket and cried for a few minutes.
I couldn’t help it. I tried to stop my tears but they kept rolling down my face and into my mouth so I could feel the salty taste.
When I finally had calmed down enough I realised that I had missed my train.
I had no choice. I had to go to work today, like all the other days. I pulled myself together and dried the last of my tears.
With a lot of thinking, the only place I thought was best to lay my dog in for now was the fridge. If I had left him in his basked he would eventually start to smell. It felt like my heart was being torn out from my chest when I laid him in an empty box and put him in the cold. Nobody wants to be in that cold, not even when you’re dead.
I took one last glance at him before I closed the thick door and I walked out from my quiet, empty apartment.
It seemed like forever before the train finally appeared. I was one hour late for work but I didn’t care. I stepped through the door and was welcomed by a smelly wave of beer, sweat and thousands of shouting, drinking and vomiting fat football fans. I’ve died and gone to hell!
They were everywhere, literally. I finally found a seat by a window and after removing a half full bottle of beer, I sat down. And now, here I am. I could feel their eyes on me and they weren’t looking at me in a friendly manner. Those guys were undressing me. Without knowing it I pulled the jacket closer to my body and stared out the window. The day was grey and foggy. Of course, what else would it be?
I closed her eyes and imagined how wonderful it would be to take a deep breath of cool clean air right now. Still with that thought in my mind I heard the loudest, biggest and the grossest burp I’ve ever heard. I swallowed and felt how my breakfast almost made itself back up. I came aware of the pressure on the seat next to me. I opened my eyes and saw the most drunk shaggy guy, looking at me with his glistering eyes that were totally non-focused.
“Hi, peanut!” He took another gulp of beer. Gee, that stench would wake up the dead. I tried to force a polite smile to my face but it felt more like a spasm.
“What’s your name, sweetheart?” He leaned closer towards me and gave me a lazy smile, showing his yellow teeth. I tried not to throw up as the smell hit me again, right in the face. That’s it! I turned towards him and looked him straight in the eyes.
“First of all, I’m not you peanut or sweetheart. I’ve had the most shitty morning you ever can imagine, I’m an hour late for work, I’m tired like hell and all I want is some peace and quiet around here.” I brought my hand up to push him away a little bit. “Oh, and by the way. Could you please move? I’m waiting for someone.” I could feel tears brimming in my eyes. I’ve had enough of this shit.
The whole cart almost shoke from the wave of howls and screams. A guy stood up with a bottle in his hand. “Come on, honey. We just wanna have some fun.”
I snorted and pushed him back some more. “I said back off.”
“What? Who are you waiting for? Your boyfriend?” he laughed and took a swallow. I was just about to say yes when I changed my mind.
“No, as a matter of fact, I’m waiting for my girlfriend.” Everybody fell into silence. The cart changed from a guy’s night out to a memorial service in a second. The whole cart was now involved in my conversation with the drunk pig.
They looked at each other, and for a second I thought that they would actually leave me alone. Suddenly another wave of howling and roaring overtook the welcomed silence. Who am I kidding?
Applauds, screams, cheering and more burps reached my sensitive ears and at that moment I couldn’t understand why these creatures was proud to call themselves males.
A big bully screamed in the other end of the cart. “Hey, leave the woman alone. We want to see some action when the princess charming arrives!” Surprisingly the man left the seat.
All I could hope for now was that a hot looking chick would walk through the doors, walk into my direction, sit down next to me and kiss me with heated passion. Whit other words, I was hoping for a miracle. I hope they’re getting off soon. Maybe I don’t have to prove anything.
Station after station passed by I was stuck with them. I was just planning to jump off at the next stop and just run away but I immediately changed my mind when the first sign of something female showed up in the doors. I decided to have faith in God for a second so I prayed that she would drag her ass over here.
There, now I had done enough praying for fifteen years ahead. She placed her large suitcase where she could find some space and made her way towards me.
Wow, it was indeed something female. She’s gorgeous! Please sit here, please sit here! I need you to sit here.
There weren’t any more available seats in the cart expect next to me so I was in luck this time. My green eyes met her ice blue and I was under a spell. Her jet black hair shone from the light in the wagon and her tanned skin looked like bronze. She gave me a weak smile.
“Can I sit here?” My miracle had just happened. Maybe I should pray more often. I didn’t trust my voice yet so I just gave her a nod. I became aware that hundreds of gloomy eyes were watching our every move and I panicked.
This whole miracle thing had made me forgotten about my bad, very bad, situation for a few seconds. Now what? Do I throw myself in her arms and yell ‘I love you’! and kiss her all over her face?
She must have noticed my panicked expression. She leaned over so she could look into my eyes. “Are you alright?” Concern, were written on her face.
I still didn’t trust my voice but I had to tell her and by the way, what did I have to loose.
I took a deep breath and quickly whispered. “No, eh, you see, this is a long story and I don’t have time to explain but every drunk pig in here thinks that you are my girlfriend. If you don’t want to play along I understand but all you have to do is hold my hand and they will leave me alone… I think.”
I guess she also noticed my teary eyes that were starting to show. She slowly looked around and started to understand the whole condition when the cart fell into a deadly silence and the whole attention, were on us.
Suddenly, I could feel a warm firm hand gently grasping my smaller one. I felt so relieved that I let out a breath I didn’t realise I was holding.
The howling reached our ears for the third time. “Come on, show us some more. Where’s the action?” Laughter filled the wagon and I felt a little sick to my stomach. Animals!
The train stopped again and I was just about to take the easy was out and run but an angry voice suddenly pierced through the air. “Listen boys, I don’t know what you have said or done to my girl, but if you don’t stop it right now you’re gonna wish you were never born. Have I made myself clear?”
A few nervous giggles could be heard and a man in a too small t-shirt stood up. “What are you gonna do, uh? Pull our hair?”
The dark woman rose from the seat and pulled her jacket a little to the side with her left arm to show them the gun in the waist of her jeans. “No”, she growled. “I can think of a few other things that I can do to you if you don’t play nice.”
To her amusement, they sat down and kept quiet but after a few seconds they started talking about football.
I just sat there with my mouth fully open, catching flies. She took her seat again and once again she grabbed my hand. “It’s okay, they won’t bother you again.” She gave my hand a gentle squeeze. “I’m Alex, by the way.” She whispered.
I gave her a nervous smile. “I’m Grace.” My voice was a little shaky. “Say Alex, do you always wear a gun and rescue women in need?” She laughed and burrowed deeper down into the seat, trying to get comfortable.
“It happens, yes. It goes with the job. I’m a police officer.” I felt a little stupid. Of course she is working within the security stuff, why else would she carry a gun, show it and threaten with it in public.
I just smiled and nodded then I looked directly into her eyes. “Thank you.”
She gave my hand a loving tug. “You’re welcome.”
She kept my hand in hers and it felt so right, I felt safe and calm. I didn’t realise it, but I was falling asleep with my head on her shoulder.
Someone was gently shaking my shoulder. “Hey, Grace. Come on wake up.”
I took a deep breath and muttered. “Mum, just five more minutes.” I could hear someone chuckle. The train was still moving and I... What, train! Shit where am I? I flew up from my seat, my heart pounding hard in my chest.
“Shit, where are we? I was suppose to get off at the ‘West Wood station.’”
I looked around in the wagon and realised that all the howling football fans were gone and it was just me and Alex left.
“I’m sorry. I tried to wake you up several times but you were having none of that. We passed ‘West Wood station’ half an hour ago.” I sighed, sat down and buried my face in my hands.
“Fuck!” This was absolutely the worst day of my life. Nothing had gone right. I was tired, sad and late. Tears began to roll down my cheeks and my shoulders started to shake. I couldn’t help it, I tried to stop but I couldn’t. Everything just seemed so impossible. Happy memories of my dog played before my eyes and that, of course, made it all worse.
A gentle hand was placed on my back and she started to rub it in soothing circles. “Hey, it’s not that bad. You can get off at the next station and just take the train back, just calm down.” I shoke my head and started to cry even harder. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand.
“You don’t understand. I’m almost two hours late, I’m gonna get fired. This is the worst day of my life.” I leaned back and dried my tears with the back of my hand but new ones kept coming. Alex fished around in a pocket of her leather jacket and pulled out a fresh Kleenex. I smiled through my tears, took it and blew my nose. Very attractive, Grace.
Alex thought for a moment. “Can’t you just take a sick day? Take a train back, go home and relax. I think you need it.”
I shoke my head again. “I don’t want to go home.”
Dark brows shot up under dark bangs. “Why?”
I started to cry like a baby, again. “My dog died this morning and I don’t want to go home to an empty and quiet apartment.” I once again buried my face in my hands, ashamed to cry in front of this stranger. I felt her arms come around me and pulled me into a warm embrace.
“I’m so sorry. I know how much an animal can mean to you.” Again she started to rub my back in small circles. It felt so comforting and relaxing it actually made me fall asleep again, but I didn’t care.
Next time I opened my eyes I was still safely wrapped in strong arms. I felt well rested, warm and happy, something I haven’t felt in a very long time. I stretched and looked up into blue eyes. “Feeling better?” Alex asked and gave me a wanly smile.
I nodded and looked out the window. “Where are we?”
“We will be in Oklahoma in two hour.” She looked at me curiously. “What are you gonna do now? Do you have enough money to go back to Chicago?”
I thought for a moment then shoke my head. Smooth, Grace. Now, how are gonna get home? Here I am, on my way to Chicago, sleeping on a complete stranger and I don’t have enough cash to go back. I can literally see myself picking a shaggy spot somewhere in a subway station, place my baseball cap I have in my bag in front of me and sing, just to make enough money. Or I can use my tapping skills I learned as a kid… No!
Alex picked up her wallet. “How much do you need?”
“Oh no, I can’t take you money. I’ve already used you as a pillow.”
Her eyes sparkled as she laughed. “Don’t you worry about that, it was my pleasure. Please, how much do you need?”
I simply shoke my head. “It wouldn’t feel right.”
She sighed and looked me straight in the eyes. “Well, then I see two options here, you can take this fifty dollar bill and go back or you can come with me to Oklahoma. How’s it gonna be?”
I couldn’t believe that this stranger just asked me to come with her. I didn’t know her yet I wanted so much to be with her and never go back, but I knew that was not going to happen.
“What are you gonna do in Oklahoma anyway? You live there?”
She shoke her head so her dark tresses fell into her face. With a quick graceful movement she brushed them back. “No, I live in a suburb just outside Chicago. I’m on my way to Oklahoma on a business trip. I’ll be gone for about a week or so.” Alex looked at me and smiled. “Hey, don’t try to change the subject.”
I smiled back at her. “Busted, uh?” I really wanted to go with her, but I didn’t understand why. I looked down at my hands, took a deep breath and decided to tell her what was on my mind. “I’m not gonna deny how much I really want to go with you, but I can’t. I have work to do and I can definitely not be gone for a whole week, I’ll get fired.” I thought for a minute. “If I’m not already.”
Alex wrinkled her eyebrows and bit her lower lip then picked out her cell phone from her pocket. “What’s the number to your boss?”
I just looked at her like she was crazy. “What are you gonna do?”
She laughed and put a hand on my shoulder. “Hey, calm down. I’m not gonna make you lose your job. Just give me the number. Trust me.”
I gazed into her eyes and sighed then, without really knowing why, I gave her the number.
She smiled and dialled the number. “What’s his name, or her?”
“Mr Watson. But I warn you, he can be very rude.” Before she could say anything I could hear Mr Watson picking up the phone on the other end.
“Hello, is this Mr Watson?” Alex asked in a friendly voice. “Good, my name is Dr Cummings and I’m calling for one of your employee, Miss Grace. She is in the hospital right now with a very bad infection. She needs to stay here for a couple of days so we can treat her but she should be alright to go to work next week.”
I could hear him arguing on the other end but I couldn’t make out any words.
“Yes, I know Mr Watson, I know.” Alex said in more pleasant voice. “Yes, but this is certainly not her fault. She will be back next week.”
My face just dropped. I can’t believe she’s doing this. I must be crazy to let her do this. I’m in so much trouble here.
“Yes, Mr Watson. I promise. She will be back next week. Thank you, bye.”
She hung up and put the phone back in her pocket. “There,” She smiled. “That wasn’t very hard but you were right, he is very rude. Someone should teach him a lesson.”
I tried to get some words out of my mouth but nothing came. I was too shocked at the moment. I took a mouthful of air before I managed to squeak something out.
“He’s gonna demand papers on this. I’m gonna get fired anyway.”
Alex put another calming hand on my shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’ve got friends in very high places.”
I couldn’t believe this. “We are committing a crime here. You are a police officer, you don’t do stuff like this.”
“Yeah it is a crime but it’s not a very bad one. Besides, you can look at it in a good way. You have had the worst morning, well day, in your life and you need some time off. I don’t think you’ve had a day off from work in ages if I’m gonna judge your manager’s way to treat people.”
I thought about that. “Yeah, you’re right. I haven’t taken a day off in four years.” I finally realised that this meant that I could go with Alex to Oklahoma and it made my heart skip a beat.
“What, four years? That’s a very long time. Not even a sickday?” I shoke me head. “Well, that’s illegal. Everyone has the right to take a few days off.”
I just shrugged and sighed. “I don’t really know what I would do if I took a few days off. If I work then at least I have something to do. Hey, you shouldn’t sit here and talk about crimes. You just committed one yourself.”
Alex threw her hands up in the air. “Yeah, I know and I’m ashamed, really. It was a pretty stupid thing to do, but I don’t regret it.”
I just smiled and shoke my head. My hero.
The train moved on, people came and people left but we were still sitting on our sour behinds. Now it was Alex’s turn to sleep on my shoulder. I liked the feeling of the warm body pressing gently into my left side. I smiled and, without even thinking about it, I planted a kiss on the top of her head on her dark tresses.
“Alex! Wake up, were almost there.” I whispered and gently shoke her shoulder. She breathed in deeply and stretched. She must have wondered were she was because I could see her confused eyes gazing around the wagon. Suddenly she must have realized that she had fallen asleep on my shoulder and she looked a little embarrassed. “Hey, it’s okay. Now, we’re even.”
She smiled. “Well, good, that was my intention.” She stretched her arms up in the air and I could hear her back snap. She made a painful face but then sighed in relief.
Now, it was my turn to grimace. “That didn’t sound too good. You okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, it happens all the time. I sort of like the feeling when my spine kind of pops back into place. It hurts for about a second but then it goes away as quickly as it came. Nothing to worry about.”
A voice suddenly filled the cart, telling all the passengers that we were reaching our destination. The train stopped and I felt my heart skip a beat again. I couldn’t believe that a was going to join a complete stranger for a whole week in a town I’ve never been in before.
Alex grabbed her big carrier and flung it over her shoulder. She turned around to make sure I was ready to leave the cart. When a saw the train leave I smiled. What the fuck am I doing here?
Alex put a gentle hand on the small of my back and gently she led me to the exit of the station. I was nervous of course but somehow I knew that everything would be alright as long as I had Alex. I was exited but yet a little worried about how things were gonna look like when I came home again. But that day was a week from now and I also knew that this would be something I would never forget or regret. This would be a week I would keep in my heart forever.
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