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One way Ticket (Short Stories about Trains)

The Girl with Green Eyes

Part 1

Reader: Liel Plamondon

'Of course,' the man in the brown hat said, 'there are good policemen and there are bad policemen, you know.'

You're right,' the young man said. Yes. That's very true. Isn't it, Julie?' He looked at the young woman next to him.

Julie didn't answer and looked bored. She closed her eyes.

Julie's my wife,' the young man told the man in the brown hat. She doesn't like trains.

She always feels ill on trains.'

'Oh yes?' the man in the brown hat said. Now my wife , she doesn't like buses. She nearly had an accident on a bus once. It was last year . . . No, no, it wasn't. It was two years ago.

I remember now. It was in Manchester.' He told a long, boring story about his wife and a bus in Manchester.

It was a hot day and the train was slow. There were seven people in the carriage. There was the man in the brown hat; the young man and his wife, Julie; a mother and two children; and a tall dark man in an expensive suit.

The young man's name was Bill. He had short brown hair and a happy smile. His wife, Julie, had long red hair and very green eyes , the colour of sea water. They were very beautiful eyes.

The man in the brown hat talked and talked. He had a big red face and a loud voice. He talked to Bill because Bill liked to talk too. The man in the brown hat laughed a lot, and when he laughed, Bill laughed too. Bill liked talking and laughing with people.

The two children were hot and bored. They didn't want to sit down. They wanted to be noisy and run up and down the train.

'Now sit down and be quiet,' their mother said. She was a small woman with a tired face and a tired voice.

I don't want to sit down,' the little boy said. I'm thirsty.'

'Here. Have an orange,' his mother said. She took an orange out of her bag and gave it to him.

'I want an orange too,' the little girl said loudly.

'All right. Here you are,' said her mother. Eat it nicely, now.'

The children ate their oranges and were quiet for a minute.

Then the little boy said, 'I want a drink. I'm thirsty.'

The tall dark man took out his newspaper and began to read. Julie opened her eyes and looked at the back page of his newspaper. She read about the weather in Budapest and about the football in Liverpool. She wasn't interested in Budapest and she didn't like football, but she didn't want to listen to Bill and the man in the brown hat. 'Talk, talk, talk,' she thought. Bill never stops talking.'

Then suddenly she saw the tall man's eyes over the top of his newspaper. She could not see his mouth, but there was a smile in his eyes. Quickly, she looked down at the newspaper and read about the weather in Budapest again.

The train stopped at Dawlish station and people got on and got off. There was a lot of noise.

Is this our station?' the little girl asked. She went to the window and looked out.

No, it isn't. Now sit down,' her mother said.

We're going to Penzance,' the little girl told Bill. For our holidays.'

Yes,' her mother said. My sister's got a little hotel by the sea. We're staying there. It's cheap, you see.'

Yes,' the man in the brown hat said. It's a nice town. I know a man there. He's got a restaurant in King Street. A lot of holiday people go there. He makes a lot of money in the summer.'

He laughed loudly. Yes,' he said again. You can have a nice holiday in Penzance.'

We're going to St Austell,' Bill said. Me and Julie. It's our first holiday. Julie wanted to go to Spain, but I like St Austell. I always go there for my holidays. It's nice in August. You can have a good time there too.'

Julie looked out of the window. Where is Budapest?' she thought. I want to go there. I want to go to Vienna, to Paris, to Rome, to Athens.' Her green eyes were bored and angry. Through the window she watched the little villages and hills of England.

The man in the brown hat looked at Julie. You're right,' he said to Bill. You can have a good time on holiday in England. We always go to Brighton, me and the wife. But the weather! We went one year, and it rained every day. Morning, afternoon, and night. It's true. It never stopped raining.' He laughed loudly. We nearly went home after the first week.'

Bill laughed too. 'What did you do all day, then?' he asked.

Julie read about the weather in Budapest for the third time. Then she looked at the tall man's hands. They were long, brown hands, very clean. 'Nice hands,' she thought.

He wore a very expensive Japanese watch. 'Japan,' she thought. 'I'd like to go to Japan.' She looked up and saw the man's eyes again over the top of his newspaper. This time she did not look away. Green eyes looked into dark brown eyes for a long, slow minute.