Train Time

TracksBack and forth the car swayed, and the couple in the sleeper argued on.

Ann said, “Amtrak never gets anyplace on time.”

For the fourth time, I’m sorry,” said Karl.

“Sorry!” Ann’s voice rose. “We’re in the middle of Nebraska, and the wedding starts in an hour. This is the worst gift you could have given me.” Karl didn’t answer, and Ann didn’t stop. “You’re so cheap!”

“What do you mean, cheap?” he protested. “This cost us twice as much as plane tickets.”

“And it’s taking four days instead of four hours! What a waste of money.” Ann pounded on the window. Gretchen is almost married. And I’m missing the whole thing because …”

“I said I was sorry!”

Ann wiped her eyes and blew her nose, then reached into her tissue packet only to find it empty. “I’m her matron of honor! You ruined my sister’s wedding.”

“I just thought we could do something special together. How was I supposed to know we would be running twenty hours behind schedule?”

“I should have been there yesterday morning. I should…” Ann broke off to answer her vibrating cell phone, glowering at her husband as he rummaged more tissues out of a suitcase. “How’s everything going?” she asked the caller.

“Annie!” Gretchen’s voice trilled. “It worked!”

“What worked?” Ann asked.

“Everybody’s being so great about it!” Gretchen bubbled on. “When you called  yesterday, I got Mom on the horn. We moved everything. As long as you’ll be here by six, it will all be fine.”

Karl found the tissues and held them out, a lonely peace offering. Ann accepted and held onto Karl’s hand. He clasped her fingers back, extending their shared hope.

“You postponed your wedding?”

“And at the eleventh hour, too!” Gretchen sounded positively thrilled.

“You’re not married?”

“Not without you sis. I just couldn’t.” And then the elation transformed into something else and both sisters cried the absent miles into their phones.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Bran macFeabhail challenged me with “You’ve been given a gift. You aren’t supposed to question gifts…but maybe you should question this one. ” and I challenged femmefauxpas with “…and green was the grass in my valley”


This is also my entry for this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge, where the word of the week is “cheap”.

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Train Time — 33 Comments

  1. Aw, make me get teary there at the end, why don't you. I could feel the pain on both sides of that argument. It's so nice when things work out, when you can feel the love all around.
    Hop over and visit Ré’s recent post BrunchMy Profile

    • They should. They just have to get across the next state line, and now that the train's left Lincoln there really shouldn't be more delays.
      Hop over and visit jesterqueen’s recent post Train TimeMy Profile

    • It surprised me! I don't know anyone in my family who would do such a thing, so Gretchen, who should have been calling to see if Annie wanted to watch on videophone, wound up delaying the whole shebang.
      Hop over and visit jesterqueen’s recent post Train TimeMy Profile

    • I think this was one of those defining moments in a relationship. Gretchen's call quite literally saved Ann and Karl's marriage. If the argument had gone on, he would have ultimately stalked down to the dining car and met a young woman travelling across the country as a graduation present to herself.

      If she had really missed her sister's wedding, Ann would never have really forgiven Karl. Even if he hadn't fallen for the girl in the dining car, Ann would have berated him for it, never let him get past it.

      But now, because Gretchen called, they both have room to pause. Karl can see what an idiot he was. He won't ever plan to surprise Ann with travel plans again.

      For her part, Ann had argued herself into a spiralling corner, and Gretchen's call broke her out of that cycle. She's never been that angry with Karl before. I doubt she ever will be again.
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  2. Very lovely story, it was so great of her to postpone for family. I had some that couldn't make it to my wedding, and it sucked doing it without them there.
    Hop over and visit Laciejay’s recent post The WigglerMy Profile

    • It's not always possible to do. There are other people's schedules, and venue issues. But it's a little church affair where everybody is friends, and Gretchen is having a potluck after anyway. It was supposed to commence at noon with a potluck lunch, but six with a potluck supper is just as good for them.
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    • I think this is guilt. He feels terrible. He's been telling her to be ready to leave on Wednesday, and here she's been thinking he knew how much she wanted to be out there early. In fact, he's been listening to her bemoan the time they don't get to spend together because of his work schedule. So when he's saying "I'm sorry," what he's really saying is "If I had it to do over again, I'd get it right."
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    • Heh. Yeah. My sister and I ? She showed up at my wedding long enough for one photograph. Then she left. I was grateful. She got married the next year by a justice of the peace, my Mom and his Mom present (relationship crashed in slightly more time than Kim K's, but only slightly)

  3. This piece is fantastic. I could see both sides of the argument. I love how he handed her a tissue as a "lonely piece offering". You have such a way with words. Great job, JQ!
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  4. I loved this little story, it was so great of her to wait for her sister. Did you revise it? I could have sworn I commented on it already, but maybe my crazy is coming back lol.

    • I need to check my spam queue — you may have gotten lost there. I am loathing WP right now, and I am trying Intense Debate so I don't lose so many people.

  5. Thanks for linking up. What a nice surprise happy ending. I thought for sure she was calling with news of an affair or a death or something equally tragic. I'm just as surprised by your ending as I am at my reaction to it–I'm honestly happy for them. 🙂 Nice job.

  6. aww 🙂
    I love the husband – so frustrated, and he was only trying to do something nice for her. such a sweet ending, everyone making up.

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  8. I enjoyed this, and I did think your kits and allergic demons was a winner, as it was!