Dave had just come from work; he had a job as a computer programmer; a job he hated with a passion; his boss was overbearing and critical; once admonishing him in front of everyone in a staff meeting; which lead to Dave sneaking away during his lunch break; to silently cry in utter humiliation. Dave was not liked much by his co-workers either; there were countless times he overheard them making plans to go out to the bar that he was never invited to. He used to feel like such a loser when he heard them discuss all the things they did during of the weekend; when he stayed at home playing video games and watching anime; a grown man watching anime; how embarrassing. Dave was lonely he very few friends and even then, they only called him once in a while; maybe to play cards and go to lunch but he hadn’t heard from them a few weeks. Dave felt so depressed and lonely and consider his life to be an utter failure; this is not what he had planned in his mind when I was 36. In fact, when he was younger; he was very creative; often writing stories; those that knew him said that he’d be a famous writer someday. Well those days were gone, When Dave entered college; he soon realized that while writing was a nice hobby; he could never make a living that way; so, he got a degree in his other hobby; computer programming; thus, the reason I was stuck in a boring job that hated; he justified it because it payed the bills.
As Dave sat down; checking his DVR for his taped shows; he got a phone call; it was his best friend Alex from high school; they hung out together almost everyday but fell apart when they went to different colleges. Dave was surprised to hear from him because it had been at least 10 years since they’ve spoken and wasn’t prepared for this phone call; he didn’t like surprises from his past. Alex exclaimed “Hey Buddy, it’s me Alex, man; I was just calling to see hello, it’s been way too long” Dave hesitated for a moment and thought about his response he said “ Yeah, I know, I was thinking about how you were doing the other day, I saw your mom at the grocery store ( Which was lie)” “What have you been up to?” Alex replied “Well, I moved to Seattle, actually, I’m now a Pastor at a church here. Dave was surprised since Alex partied quite a bit in high school and never pinned him as the religious type. Dave said “Oh wow, how did that come about?” “Alex began to tell a personal story ( stories like these always made Dave uncomfortable) “ Well, during college I developed a drinking problem and I ended up dropping out; I became depressed and just spent all of my time being drunk; meeting the wrong kinds of people and I ended up in jail and while I was there I discovered God and turned my life around; I got out; started a community outreach program for troubled youth and one thing lead to another and now I am a pastor; pretty crazy, huh?” “I got married to a wonderful woman and we just our first baby a year ago” Dave didn’t know how to respond and all he could say was “ That’s a quite a story, man. I’m happy you got your life together” “My story is not quite as interesting; you know how I wanted to be writer; well that never happened. I ended up getting a degree in computer programming and I am at the same job I was at right after college; I can’t believe it’s been 14 years. Alex said “ Hey you made something of yourself; you should be proud” Anyways, I called you actually because since we were best friends in High School; I just feel bad that I never called you or added on Facebook; it wasn’t personal; just a lot of stuff going on, you know and it’s something that I regret” Anyways, I was wondering if you are able to make a trip to see; you can stay here, obviously” I know it’s a lot to ask but I just can’t make it back east and I want you to meet my family and see the church that I preach at” Dave thought about it for second and knew he need a break; a vacation and not just from work but from the place he had grown up all his life; he didn’t travel much and had never been to the West Coast; this could be an adventure. Dave said “Sure, yeah I’ll go” “I have some vacation time; how about a month from now?” Alex said that would work and Dave hung up the phone; feeling excited about the trip. Dave had one little problem; he was terrified of planes; he had been since he was a kid; being in the air at 3,000 feet; with the possibility of a crash or a hijacking; sent his anxiety skyrocketing. And Dave was not going to drive all the way to Seattle in his car; he had never driven more than 100 miles out of town and he wasn’t going to start now. It was clear to Dave; what a sheltered existence he had and it made him feel a little sad. His only choice was to take the train; sure, it was old fashioned and would take days; but hey it might be fun; he might meet new and interesting people and really see parts of the country he had never seen; all from his train window; another adventure. It was settled he was taking the train and yes, this was going to be quite the adventure.
A month later Dave was all set to make his cross-country trip; something he had been waiting for; he both excited and anxious; he had never been this far from home. He told his friends and family all about the upcoming trip and they all wished him luck. The morning of the train trip; Dave had a feeling of dread; knots in his stomach and a lump in his throat. He wasn’t sure why he felt this had but it was a feeling he couldn’t shake. He sat on the couch; dizzy from the anxiety; wondering if he should just call off the trip. Dave was a pretty anxious guy and he thought of everything that could have gone wrong; maybe the train would crash; maybe Alex wouldn’t be happy to see him; maybe his bags might get lost; all the worst possible scenarios. Dave had a long history of anxiety and he worried he might forget his anxiety meds or get lost with his bags. Dave did some deep breathing; got himself together and drove to the train station.
Dave arrived at the station and found the parking lot completely empty; which he thought was strange; since it was in the middle day. He entered the station expecting it to be empty but to his surprise; it was filled with people; it lively even; people seemed to be in a jovial mood; as if it was a celebration. He had no idea what was going on and walked up to the man at the counter and handed him his ticket; the man was an older gentleman who looked like he had probably worked here all his life. He gave Hank and big smile and exclaimed “Are you ready for the trip of a lifetime, young man” “I guess” replied Dave. He looks puzzled because it seemed like a weird thing to say. He walked back to his seat and waited for boarding to be called; it felt like hours. A beautiful woman with curly hair and the bluest eyes with bright red lipstick and a scarf sat in front of him; staring at him with her piercing eyes. At first, he quite enjoyed this woman staring at him but he soon felt quite uncomfortable and intimidated by this mystery woman. He finally uttered ‘Hi, I’m Dave, how are you?” “I’m going to Seattle where are you headed” She laughed quietly and said “I’m going wherever this magical train takes me; to whatever universe awaits me” “Ooook what a weirdo.” Hank thought to himself but he politely replied “Oh cool”; hoping this awkward conversation would end soon and with sheer luck; at that moment; their train was called to board.
Dave grabbed his bags and started making his way towards the train platform; it was a long way to the train; all of a sudden one of the lights above him burst and he was in sudden darkness; he tripped; dropping one of his suitcases; causing all of his clothes to fall to the ground. In a fit of frustration, he screamed out “dammit”. All of sudden; he heard the sound of high heels tapping quickly behind them and a hand on his lower back. He heard “Oh honey, let me help you. He realized it was the woman he had met moments before. He was always so nervous around beautiful women and he already felt flustered; he stumbled over his words and muttered a “thank you, I appreciate that” She exclaimed “I am so excited to be spending this whole train trip with you; I think fate brought us together” Dave couldn’t believe his ears; as he gathered the rest of his scattered clothes. It seemed that this beautiful woman was flirting with him. He never had luck with women; he had only a few steady girlfriends and those relationships never lasted; it attributed it all to his nervousness. A beautiful woman like this never talked to him like this; it was almost surreal. He finally got his things together and they both headed towards the train. The beautiful woman finally introduced herself she said “By the way, my name is Iris” “That’s a beautiful name” stated Dave. “Thanks” she said. Dave was mesmerized by this beautiful woman; her voice; those eyes and her flirtatious nature; she was so mysterious; they were both so lost in talking to each they had almost forgotten to board the train; they were both interrupted by the sound of man on the train yelling “Alllll aboard”. They both headed as quickly as they could and finally boarded the train.
Dave entered the train; placed his bags in the compartment and sat down; preparing himself for a long journey. He plugged his phone so it could charge it; he planning on spending most of this trip; listening to music and just binging on Netflix. As he settled in felt a tap on his shoulder; it was Iris; she was sitting behind him in the seat behind him; she motioned for him to sit next to her. This was all too much; his anxiety was sky high but he obliged and was excited at the prospect of sitting next to this beautiful woman for the whole trip; who seemed very interested in him; and this he couldn’t possibly understand; it just didn’t make sense but he went with it. He moved to her seat and Dave took a deep breath because this was totally unexpected and by this point, he had all forgotten about seeing his friend in Seattle; his job he hated and the studio apartment he lived in because he couldn’t afford anything else; all he could think about this mysterious stranger; seated next to him. As the train left for the station; his stomach filled with butterflies as this woman kept flirting with him; this was going to be a long trip indeed.
As the train moved closer and closer to his destination; Iris flirted relentlessly; asking personal questions and continuing to stare at Dave with those eyes that he felt immersed in. She asked him about his childhood and family, what his passions were. Finally, Dave quipped “You are asking me all these questions but you haven’t said anything about yourself” “Tell me, who is Iris?” Iris lowered her head to the ground and looked nervous. She replied “What’s to say” “I grew up with a family I hate; I left home at 17; to become an artist and I’ve been just traveling from here to there; meeting all sorts of people and getting into crazy jams; that’s pretty much me” Dave replied “Wow, you sound like a free spirit; you just go wherever the wind takes you, huh” “That’s a very interesting way of putting of it” said Iris. “When I was a kid, I wanted to be artist too or maybe a writer; I had all these stories in my head, you know” Dave stated. “I knew it, I just Knew it” Iris said. “I knew there was something about you, you seem sensitive and expressive; a kind soul; you are a born writer” “I don’t know about that” said Dave. Iris exclaimed “Don’t doubt yourself, Dave” “You have a creative spirit; own it” Dave was hanging on to every word. Iris said “I use to fill notebooks with poetry and thoughts and it was such a release, you know”. “And I’ll tell you there is nothing more attractive to woman than man that can write well; especially poetry” she said with a wink. Dave turned to the window and felt himself blushing at this woman’s attention; he was trying to play it cool but he could sense his anxiety was showing. But yet it didn’t deter Iris from talking to him. As he talked with Iris; he became more and more comfortable; sharing more personal information with her; his fears and anxieties; his issues with his ex-girlfriend; his boss that yelled at him at work; he couldn’t believe he was telling her all this information but he couldn’t help himself; he was putty in her hands. Iris got up for a moment and left Dave alone with his thoughts. As she escaped from his view; an older woman; said to him “Be careful” “What do you mean” asked Dave. She turned around and said nothing. When Dave asked; the older woman refused to turn around and walked into another train car; he didn’t see her for the rest of the trip. He thought to himself “What did she mean by be careful” This all made him very nervous.
Iris came back a few minutes later and said to Dave “Hey are you hungry?” “we can get lunch in the dining car, my treat” Dave replied “Sure” As he was walking behind Iris toward the dining car; an older man grabbed Dave’s arm and sternly whispered his ear; didn’t that other lady tell you to be careful” Dave annoyed; walked away without responding to the old man. He was getting frustrated at all of these nosy old people who wouldn’t mind their own business. A part of him; was questioning Iris’s friendliness but he ignored at the prospect of getting attention from this woman even if things seemed to escalating quickly. He moved forward and just went with it; like the free spirit he wished he was.