I’d always been interested in the environment, but I’d never had the opportunity to study it…we’d never had the money. Jacob was lucky. His parents had paid for his education, but mine dangled that carrot in front of my face for far too long. As a result, I told them I didn’t want their help. And since then, Jacob and I haven’t had the resources yet to put me through school, but it’s coming…
The train pulled up. The wind was ravenous at this point, and the thick pine trees were starting to buckle under the strain. The train blocked most of the onslaught the station announcement urged us to board as soon as possible. The first car passed me, and I hurried to get into the closest one. I heard shouts. The rain was so bad that trees were flattened, trash cans thrown about like toys.
“Jesus Christ!” I screamed for some justice as I was nearly trampled, getting into the train. I jumped for the first available seat and grasped my carry-on bags, trying to protect my face.
People were screaming and babies were crying. A man came into the train with his glasses shattered, blood streaming down his nose and eyes. He ran to the back of the train and headed for the washroom. I looked down at the entrance near the front of the car and saw a little girl trapped inside a crevice near the door, screaming.
I put my bags down on my seat and lunged toward the child.
“Hold on! Don’t move, ok?” People were kicking and screaming their way into the train, knocking me in the face more than once. I grabbed the little girl and ran back to my seat, which, to my amazement, was still empty but for my bags. The place was packed, and everyone was shouting in panic.
“Ok, everybody calm down!” A voice demanded over the speaker system.
“We have everything under control. Please take your seats. If you are injured, please stay in your seat and we will have one of our attendants come and help you immediately. Please remain calm, and await further instructions.”
Attendants began walking up and down the aisles, trying to seat everyone and attend to their wounds. I looked at the little girl and asked if she was alright. She didn’t respond; she just sobbed and stared out the window. I looked over and saw rain and hail crashing down outside, shooting sideways in an unbelievable onslaught. The winds were violent and doing obvious damage. The storm had become so thick that I couldn’t see more than a hundred yards from the train. I saw an attendant coming toward me, and I grabbed her arm.
“Excuse me miss, this little girl needs some medical attention. I think she was hurt coming onto the train. Do we have any idea of what’s happening out there yet?” I asked her in a panic. I doubted I’d have the opportunity again for a while.
“Steve! This little girl is looking for her uncle…come take a look at her.”
“What’s your name sweetie?” Anna asked.
Steve came over and walked Kasey back behind the curtain near the front of the train. The other attendant began to walk away.
“Hey! You haven’t answered my question yet…do you guys have any idea what is going on out there? Is it a hurricane; is it a tornado…what’s going on?” I asked her frantically.
“Miss, I’m not sure. They haven’t told us anything yet. I’m sure the conductor will have an update in a minute…please be patient and let us get to the rest of the injured.” She didn’t wait for my response.
What was going on out there? I hadn’t seen anything this violent in downtown Toronto in my entire life. I stared outside for a minute, as everyone around me tried to calm themselves. The power on the train kept flickering in and out. The conductor said something to us, but I couldn’t make it out…I was too mesmerized by the sheer force of the storm. Its power was overwhelming. Lightning hurled itself toward the earth, thunder clasped itself on constantly…it looked like anger. It didn’t look natural. I couldn’t believe how much I’d fought to get on this train.
Then, out of nowhere, it stopped. It just stopped. The thunder ceased, the lightning dissipated, and the rain just simply stopped. I tuned back into reality to hear the last portion of the conductor’s update.
“…and so we’ll do that momentarily. The storm seems to have stopped and we’re getting the go-ahead from the tower, so we’ll be proceeding once we’ve accounted for all passengers onboard. Thank you.”
“This is insane. We’re still gonna go? Did anyone just see what happened out there?” I shouted, as if it would somehow make a difference.
“I don’t think they care,” said a voice from the seat behind me.
A man leaned over my seat, folded both arms, and then extended one to shake my hand.
“Hi, my name’s Mark. I agree with you, I think it’s insane outside. Who knows if that storm will be back or not?” He was cute.
“Hi…I’m Anna. Nice to meet you. Yeah, at least someone agrees with me.”
He smiled and sat back down in his seat. He was handsome; he had black hair, brown eyes, was well-built and wore a blue and grey plaid shirt.
“Where are you getting off?” I asked him, trying to provoke conversation. There was no one else here to talk to, and I figured we’d be a while.
“Do you mind if I hop in the seat next to you? It’ll make talking a lot easier,” he said, smiling.
“Sure.” I laughed.
“I’m getting off in Kingston, I have my family out there by the Rideau Canal. It’s my grandmother’s birthday on Saturday, and we’re having a big party for her.” He had a gorgeous smile, and he looked somehow familiar to me.
I thought about Jacob. I hadn’t even given our relationship another chance, and I was already comparing this guy to him. I don’t know…it just seemed like I had this connection with Jacob, but it didn’t feel like he was even there sometimes. Every time I trusted him with something, he let me down or I ended up hurt. There was no intimacy left…all there was, was history. A long, drawn-out history, which was ending badly. I loved him with all my heart, but at times, I’d never felt so alone as when I was right beside him. This couldn’t be all there was…
“Oh really? I have family out there too! We’re off of old Kingston Mills road — you must know where that is?” The Rideau wasn’t that far off from where my parents were.
“Wow, we’re just off of Canal Drive. Small world isn’t it? It’s funny, I don’t remember you from school…did you go to high school in Kingston?” He seemed familiar, but not from high school.
“Well actually, no. I left Kingston when I was young. I was only in high school down here for a couple years, and then I moved out to Toronto.” And not exactly by choice, either.
“Oh, ok. So did you move down to Toronto with your parents?” He looked over at me and listened intently, but seemed very relaxed.
“Well, I moved in with my boyfriend. I didn’t exactly have a very good relationship with my parents at the time. They kicked me out.” It was something that I had a hard time telling people, but I figured I’d never see this guy again anyway, so why not?
“Oh wow, that’s horrible. I know it’s none of my business, but how could they kick out a young, beautiful girl and force her to go live somewhere else? You weren’t even legally allowed to live on your own, were you?” He was right, but I’d just wanted to get out of there. They’d treated me so horribly for so long.
“Well, no, they didn’t have any legal right to do it. I was under 16 at the time. I moved down to Toronto to be near Jacob, my boyfriend…and first, I had to live in this horrible house with this Indian family. The mother kept accusing me of stealing and trying to seduce her son. Keep in mind, her son was 35 — and not my type!” I smiled and looked over at him. He was surprised, but he laughed.
“Attention: We are now beginning our journey, making all stops to Ottawa. Attendants will be along to check your tickets momentarily. Thank you.”
To Be Continued…
Seventh Journey is available now: