Emma felt tired as she moved along with the other passengers to find the sleep area. Today had been a pretty long day. Emma couldn’t wait to settle down for the night. Who knew, maybe she would even be able to get some sleep tonight. She hoped so. She hadn’t been sleeping very good since Mary Margaret had send her that letter.
And maybe she wouldn’t tonight either. With that message Mary Margaret had left on her voicemail... Emma cringed. She was still so relieved that she was on her way away from Toronto. Coming to think about it, she had actually needed this change for a whole now. She was not running away from Mary Margaret and Lily. She was simply.... Starting over somewhere new.
Okay, she was totally running away. But she would never admit to anyone.
Emma narrowly avoided colliding with a small child, and she silently added this to her “evidence pile”. She was still convinced that all the children on this train ride had actually been dosed up on sugar before taking off. Maybe all the passengers on the train was participating in an experiment without really knowing it. Emma chuckled and grabbed a bit firmer onto her backpack. She was looking forward to reaching the sleep area and get settled in her “night cabin”. She was relieved that she didn’t have to share her cabin with anyone. That was the luxury about having won this “all inclusive” trip in that competition. The only little “minus” was the fact that the bathroom was down the hall. True, there were bathrooms spread all over the sleeping area, so she wouldn’t end up standing in line or anything, and the sleeping areas were in three train wagons, so it wasn’t like the place was gonna be crowded or anything, but still, Emma wouldn’t have minded the luxury of having her own bathroom. But she would just have to suck it up and live with it. Which she could. Of course she could. She was only gonna be here for three days. She could survive three days without having her own bathroom.
But what about after the three days? Emma considered it as she moved along in the queue. What was gonna happen when she arrived in Vancouver? Obviously, she hadn’t thought about that, but maybe now was the time to do that. She couldn’t sleep rough and spend the night on bus benches and in cold parks. She had actually slept on a bus bench once. Right after she had fled Mary Margaret and David’s house. Emma was sure that her back was still permanently stiff after it. Sleeping on that bus bench had probably been one of the worst experiences in her life. She would probably still have been on that bus bench if Ella hadn’t found her and been brave enough to invite a complete stranger into her home in the middle of the night.
Emma reminded herself to call Ella as soon as she was settled in for the night in her cabin. Not telling Ella that she was on the train and on her way was a shitty thing to do.
It was a bit of a pity that there wasn’t any Wi-Fi on this trip. Not because Emma was dying to update her Instagram or check her Tinder, no she would actually do something sensible if she’d had any Wi-Fi. She would check out all the motels and B&B’s in Vancouver and in the area close to. Sure, Emma was a spontaneous person, but now that she was on her way, she was actually beginning to panic a little. She had literally just a backpack and the clothes on her back. She had been so focused on getting away from Mary Margaret and Lily that she had forgotten to actually think. She had quit her job in a frenzy and run off. No looking back. Emma’s chest tightened in panic. Okay, so maybe she had chosen to not look back, but the issue wasn’t looking back. It was looking ahead. She should have done that before running off. Obviously, she should have looked up motels and B&B’s in advantage and called ahead to make sure there was a room waiting for her when she arrived in Vancouver. But she hadn’t. Because I’m the most disorganized person in the world.
Emma took a deep breath and reminded herself not to panic. Vancouver was a big place. Of course she could find a place today. Vancouver had plenty of diners and bars. Of course she could get a job. Everything would be fine. She would just have to stay optimistic and positive. She was on her way. Everything would work out just fine when she got to Vancouver. She would find a job and a place to stay.
And she would start writing again. Maybe she would even be ballsy enough to submit a few of her things. She could totally do that. Emma felt that it would be a very symbolic thing to do when she got to Vancouver. The ultimate sign that she was finally free of Mary Margaret. She had never encouraged Emma to keep writing. Quite the reverse, in fact. Mary Margaret had always scoffed when Emma spoke of her hopes to become a writer. No, she hadn’t always scoffed. Sometimes she had laughed, and that had been even worse. As had the way she had patted Emma’s cheek and told her to “stop talking nonsense, sweetie”. Mary Margaret had had different plans for Emma. And they had involved Blanchard’s Boarding School. Mary Margaret was the headmistress of the boarding school lying in New Toronto.
She had taken over the post after her mother, Eva Blanchard, and it had been Mary Margaret’s plan to see Emma behind the headmistress’ desk once. But Emma had had little desire to do that. She couldn’t see herself behind a desk, and she certainly couldn’t see herself boss the children around like Mary Margaret had done. But obviously, Mary Margaret wouldn’t hear of it. And David had just gone along with it and said that it was the best kind of future Emma could possibly get.
Emma hadn’t agreed with that.
Finally, she reached her own sleeping cabin, and Emma didn’t even think twice before pushing past a couple of people. She quickly found the key the “train guy” had given her earlier and inserted it into the lock. The lock immediately clicked, and Emma pushed the door open. The blonde whistled quietly upon setting foot in the sleep cabin. This place was pretty awesome. Huge bed just for her. No creaking mattresses like the one she’d had back in her apartment in Toronto. No, this was class. Emma chuckled a little. Look who’s travelling in style. And just because I won a ticket in a competition. I literally didn’t do anything to achieve this. She had done this the typical Emma Swan-way.
The blonde shut the door behind her and closed the blinds before opening her backpack and roaming through it. She might as well change into sleepwear now. She wasn’t planning on going anywhere besides to bed. And to the bathroom to brush her teeth. She quickly found what she was looking for in her bag and then stripped out of her jeans and tanktop. She paused after having slipped her bra off.
Should I have changed into sleepwear AFTER having gone to the bathroom? Emma considered it for a second. Nah. Her “pajamas” consisted of a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants. Those were everyday clothes. Of course she could walk down the hallway wearing that. It wasn’t a problem at all. Emma briskly resumed her undress process. She shoved her clothes into the bag and then slipped the t-shirt over her head. She stumbled slightly and cursed a bit as she stepped into the sweatpants and pulled them up. As she tied the strings, she noted that they were a bit loose fitting. Almost too loose fitting.
Hmm. Emma would have to eat more when she got to Vancouver. She had worked hard lately, and she had earned a decent amount of money. She could allow herself a nice meal on a fancy restaurant. Or maybe she would just chose Kentucky Fried Chicken. Or Just Eat. Emma chuckled slightly and then reminded herself that she didn’t have to feel bad about indulging once in a while. It was Mary Margaret who had put that thought in Emma’s head in the first place. She hadn’t exactly starved Emma, but she had kept her on a very strict diet. Lots of greens and healthy food, and that shouldn’t have been a problem as such. Eating healthy was important, Emma knew that. But the thing was that Mary Margaret had taken things one step too far. As she did with most things. She had carefully written down what Emma had eaten during the day, and by the end of the week, she had calculated carbs and proteins and asked Emma throughout questions about how much she had walked during the week. Mary Margaret didn’t allow Emma to sit still for too long. And she didn’t allow Emma to have any sweets, either. Had she been invited to a birthday; Emma was given strict orders not to eat any of the candy that was served but sticking to her own little bag of “healthy” snacks Mary Margaret had given her beforehand.
One time Emma had been left on her own for a little while, and she had broken the rules. She had opened the fridge and had come across a piece of cake. Emma had done the only natural thing and had taken a large bite of the cake. And she had relished in the taste until Mary Margaret suddenly came home and caught her in the act. Mary Margaret had forced Emma to spit the piece of cake out. Quite literally. She had forced Emma’s mouth open and then threatened to stick two fingers down Emma’s throat if she didn’t spit it out.
Emma who had been only seven at the time had been mortified, and the feeling of being choked was still sticking to her. As did the feeling of doing something wrong when she ate something that wasn’t healthy. But she was working on it. She knew she wasn’t the one who was wrong. Mary Margaret was.
Emma shook her head in an attempt to make the dark thoughts go away. She didn’t want to think about it anymore. Mary Margaret wasn’t worth wasting any thoughts on. That was what Archie had said, and that was what Emma chose to believe.
In an attempt to snap out of it, Emma found her toothbrush in her bag. Now she wanted to brush her teeth, call Ella and tell her about the trip and then go straight to bed. Tomorrow was a new day, and Emma couldn’t wait to wake up to Canada’s beautiful landscape outside her window. This is not the time to be upset about the past, Swan. This is the time to be excited about the future. Remember that.
She grabbed her toothbrush, toothpaste and the key to her sleep cabin, and then she went back into the hallway to find the bathroom. She made sure to lock the door to her sleep cabin first, though. She didn’t wanna risk something stupid happening just because she had forgotten to lock the door when she left.
The hallway was considerably accessible now. Most of the children were gone, and Emma felt relieved about that. She was starting to get a headache, and it was easier to blame the screaming children and not assuming that it was because she’d had a too long day. She was only twenty seven. She wasn’t allowed to complain over how long her days were yet.
Emma chuckled a little to herself as she slipped past a couple who were standing and chatting by the door to their sleep cabin. Emma was relieved that she didn’t sleep near them. She didn’t like the look
in the woman’s eyes one bit. She had a nasty feeling what that couple was gonna do the moment the door to their sleeping cabin closed behind them.
I wonder who IS sleeping in the cabin next to mine? Oh god, what if it’s a kid. Or another love-dovey couple? Ugh, that would really SUCK! Good thing I’m not above banging on the wall if they’re being too loud. Banging on the wall was something Emma had practiced back in her apartment in Toronto. She was living right next to a very active couple, and constantly having her sleep interrupted because of the woman’s screaming was well.... Not pleasant.
Emma finally reached the bathroom, and there was only one person waiting in line. The blonde grinned a little as she recognized her “travelling companion”. The brunette was still fully dressed, but she was holding a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste. Shit. Emma suddenly wished that she hadn’t changed into her sleepwear before going to the bathroom. She looked terrible in her sweatpants and t-shirt, and the brunette looked well... Gorgeous. Damnit. Okay. Focus, Swan.
“Hey,” Emma said to the brunette’s back. She blurted it out before really thinking about whether the brunette could hear her or not.
But the brunette immediately turned around and flashed Emma a little smile. Emma immediately nixed her theory about the brunette potentially being deaf. It was obvious that the woman could hear. She simply couldn’t speak. Emma felt bad for her. She doubted that the brunette needed her pity, but Emma couldn’t help it. She still felt ridiculously guilty for what she had been thinking when she hopped aboard the train. That everyone would be quiet. Emma was perfectly aware that this was merely a coincidence, but, nevertheless. She remembered the pained expression on the brunette’s face during dinner, and the way she had taken a pill. Whatever it was that prevented her from speaking clearly had a physical reason.
“Not many people in the hallway tonight,” Emma said and did her best to small talk.
The brunette shook her head slightly.
“We’re reaching Winnipeg tomorrow,” Emma continued. “Do you think many people are getting off there?”
The brunette shrugged lightly and then patted her pockets in an almost defeated manner.
It took Emma a moment before she understood what the brunette was trying to say, but then it dawned upon her: “you didn’t bring your phone did you?”
The brunette shook her head again, looking ever so defeated.
Emma grimaced when she realized her blunder. She was literally flapping her gums to a woman who had no chance to answer her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think of that.”
The brunette flashed her a little smile, and once again Emma had to trust her instincts when she said: “you don’t mind?”
The brunette shook her head again. She clearly didn’t.
Emma had to think creative. Settle for “yes” and “no” answers, Swan. Make it a little easy.
“Are you getting off the train in Winnipeg?” Emma asked.
The brunette shook her head.
She shook her head again.
Emma chuckled slightly. “You’re going all the way to Vancouver?”
This time, the brunette nodded eagerly and smiled in affirmative.
“Great,” Emma said with real enthusiasm. “Me, too. I’m kinda hoping to get a fresh start over there.” wait, why am I telling her that? I barely know her.
The brunette nodded almost solemnly at that.
“You too?” Emma guessed. “You’re hoping to start over too?”
The brunette nodded again. More eagerly than before.
“Well, who know, maybe we’ll end up the same place,” Emma jokingly chuckled.
The brunette flashed her a beautiful smile, and Emma got that ridiculous feeling in her stomach. Had she been a teen, she would call the feelings “butterflies”, but she wasn’t a teen. She was an adult. And right now she was annoyed at herself. Why was it that she couldn’t share a conversation with a beautiful woman without instantly feeling attracted to her? Ugh.
The door to the bathroom opened, and a younger redhead stepped out in the hallway. She brushed a hand over her short nightgown, and she clearly didn’t notice Emma as the blonde was partially leaning back against the wall. The redhead was only looking at the brunette as she said: “ugh, I swear to god, I should never have booked this trip. It’ll be the death of me. Anyway, do you know where I can find a food trolley? I could kill for a midnight snack.”
The brunette shrugged once, and that seemed to tick the redhead off. “Hello? I’m talking to you. Do you know where I can find a food trolley or not?”
The brunette shook her head three times quickly, and then slinked past the redhead and into the bathroom. Emma heard the lock click behind her.
The redhead rolled her eyes. “Rude. Why the hell can’t people just answer?”
“Hey! She can’t actually-“ Emma immediately back pedaled. This was definitely not her business to meddle in.
“What?” the redhead demanded and raised an eyebrow.
Emma abandoned ship. “I think I saw a food trolley in the back wagon. You have a bit of a long walk ahead of you.” Which serves you well for being a...
“Oh. Thanks,” the redhead said and walked off without another word.
“And you’re welcome!” Emma hollered after her. “Look who’s being rude now!”
The redhead didn’t respond. Either she didn’t hear Emma, or she simply didn’t care. Emma’s bet was on the second option. The blonde shifted slightly on her feet. She was probably more agitated by this than she had a right to be. She didn’t even know the brunette. They were just sitting together, that was all. Then why the hell am I so intrigued by her? Seriously, aren’t I supposed to mope around and be sad about having been dumped by Lily? Emma rolled her eyes. What, now she actually wanted to think of Lily? God, I’m sadistic.
After a moment or so, the door to the bathroom opened, and the brunette stepped out in the hallway. Emma carefully stepped aside to make room so the brunette could pass her.
“Goodnight,” Emma said spontaneously.
The brunette offered a small smile, and then disappeared down the hallway.
Emma went into the bathroom and brushed her teeth thoroughly. Then she tied her hair back in a braid and did a quick inspection of her face. She undeniably looked tired. There were dark circles underneath her green eyes, and Emma cringed. She really hoped that she could catch up on some sleep during this train trip. She needed that more than anything.
Once done in the bathroom, Emma unlocked the door and went back down the hallway. Now the hallway was deserted, and the only thing Emma could hear where the muffled voices coming from the sleeping cabins. And the sound of the train moving, of course.
Emma felt relieved. At last there was silence.
The blonde quietly padded down the hallway and slipped inside her own sleep cabin. Everything was quiet there too. No moaning and other “questionable” noises from the sleep cabin next to her. So there was no lovey-dovey couple in the sleep cabin right next to hers. Thank god.
As Emma flopped down on the bed, she wondered who was sleeping in the cabin next to hers. Someone who was being extremely quiet, that’s for sure. To her left, she could hear the quiet voices from what she was assuming was a couple having a late night chat, but the cabin to her right was absolutely quiet. Emma couldn’t hear anything at all. Maybe the person in there was already fast asleep, or maybe it was in fact the brunette who slept on the other side of the wall. Emma sort of liked the idea about that. Traveling companions during both day and nighttime. And the brunette was going all the way to Vancouver. Emma sort of liked that too. Maybe they could get to know each other a little better during the trip. Emma hoped so. In a friendly way of course. Don’t drool over a woman you barely know, Swan. Emma would at least try to find out the name of her brunette traveling buddy. She had been wondering about the brunette’s name for a while now. For some reason she was certain that the brunette had a glamorous name. Like.... Audrey. Or.... Grace. Or maybe... Vivien. Or perhaps even Rita. Emma chuckled to herself. She felt a little ridiculous, trying to guess the brunette’s name like this.
Time to do something else, Swan.
Emma quickly took her own advice and found her phone in her bag. She texted Ella to let her know that she was on the train and everything was fine.
Ella immediately texted her back, mercilessly scolding Emma for not “texting like she promised”, and Emma willingly took the scolding. She knew that she should have texted Ella right away. But she did put her foot down when Ella called her a “Dummy”. Emma was not a dummy!
But apart from scolding, Ella had other news too. The most important one being that Mary Margaret had stopped by the diner where Ella was working, and the pixie haired woman had more or less threatened Ella to tell where Emma was. Ella had refused, and then she had fetched the manager. It had been very amusing to see him escort Mary Margaret out of the diner. Emma chuckled in the darkness. She would have liked to see that. But at the same time she was so relieved that she wasn’t anywhere near Mary Margaret right now.
Ella then asked Emma when she was coming back to Toronto. Emma cringed a bit when she truthfully told her friend that she wasn’t sure. Coming back was less than tempting. Ella was obviously upset, but she told Emma that she understood, and then “threatened” to come and visit Emma at her new place. Wherever that would be. Emma texted back and told Ella that both she and Sean were welcome anytime.
After lots of texting back and forward, Emma was starting to get sleepy. Exhaustion was finally catching up with her, and Emma couldn’t have been more satisfied with that. She texted Ella goodnight and then curled up in the bed. She was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
The next morning started with lots of commotion. And breakfast. Emma was roused from her sleep early because of all the noise outside her sleep cabin. But this time Emma didn’t mind it as much. Right now the main thought on her mind was food. Being chronically hungry sometimes really had its perks. Emma barely paid attention to how many people there were outside her sleep cabin as she emerged from it fully dressed and ready for the day. And she didn’t pay attention to the long line in front of the bathroom either. She was only thinking about breakfast, and how excited she was to try the buffet.
She didn’t pay attention to the overactive children and the parents running around in attempt to catch their offspring’s before said offspring’s did something stupid. Like trying to open the windows in the train.
But what she did notice however, was something she saw on her way into the dining area. The redheaded woman she had encountered by the bathroom last night was telling another woman off. The redhead seemingly thought that the other woman was standing in the way, and now she was almost yelling at her to “move, damn it!”
Emma scoffed and felt very tempted to walk over there and ask the redhead to shut her mouth, but quickly decided to abandon ship. She wasn’t looking for trouble. She was just here to get breakfast. But she did wobble slightly in her decision when she saw the redhead throttle past the other woman.
After having loaded her plate with waffles covered in maple syrup and a small mountain of bacon and eggs, Emma found an empty table. She did the brave thing and left her breakfast unattended for two seconds as she fetched herself a cup of coffee, but luckily, her breakfast was still untouched when she returned back to her table.
As she dug into her breakfast, Emma looked around in the dining room. It didn’t take her long to realize that she was looking for the brunette, and it took her even shorter to realize that the brunette wasn’t here. Emma felt a pang of disappointment. Why wasn’t the brunette here? Did she perhaps prefer to eat while she was seated? Emma knew that was possible. She had read on the website that it was possible to order a standard breakfast that would be delivered by one of the train stewards or stewardesses. But a standard breakfast only consisted of toast and scrambled eggs. Why choose that when you could have waffles covered in maple syrup? Emma wasn’t a hundredth percent on board with the brunette’s priorities.
Oh, well. Emma continued her breakfast and took deep gulps of her coffee. She felt pretty good this morning. She had slept well, and there were no new messages on her voicemail. Emma doubted that Mary Margaret had finally gotten the message, but still, it was nice to experience a Mary Margaret-free morning. Emma had had far too few of those lately. It was a luxury. She felt so light. Almost carefree. Like she was just a normal twenty seven year old on a train journey.
Yep, I could definitely get used to this, Emma thought to herself as she took another sip of her coffee. She had her morning coffee, a plate full of waffles. What else could she possibly need?
Hmmm, more bacon perhaps. Emma chuckled. Yes, she supposed she could use a bit more bacon. And maybe she would even treat herself to cup of hot chocolate. With cinnamon. Mmm. Now that wouldn’t be too bad.
Emma leaned back on her chair. She felt full of surplus energy, and she even found herself laughing slightly at a kid who threw a piece of bacon at his brother. Right now, Emma could easily see why that was amusing and not irritating. Talk about free entertainment on the trip.
After having a rather solid breakfast and feeling utterly stuffed, Emma walked down the hallway to return to her seat. She wasn’t counting on moving more during this day. Only to go to the bathroom. She knew that part of this experience was to get off the train and see the beautiful landscape up close, but Emma simply felt too lazy. Maybe she would tomorrow, though.
As she returned to her seat, she found the brunette sitting in her own seat. There was an empty plate in front of her, and the brunette was drinking what appeared to be a cup of tea.
“Good morning,” Emma and felt more excited than she probably should, but she couldn’t help herself. She was glad to see the brunette.
The brunette looked up and offered a slight smile. Emma noted that she was wearing slacks today. Neat, cream colored slacks paired with a bottle green silk blouse. She had a cream colored scarf tied around her neck, and her dark hair looked perfectly glossy and shiny like it had done yesterday. And obviously, her makeup was impeccable. How the heck does she manage to look so good in the morning?
“I slept like a baby last night,” Emma said and leaned back in her seat. “Did you sleep alright?”
The brunette nodded as she roamed through her purse, but there was a hint of something in her eyes. A slight sadness. Emma didn’t like that one bit, but since she didn’t know exactly why the brunette looked sad, she decided to offer the only type of comfort she could.
“Hey,” Emma said lightly.
The brunette looked up with one hand still thrusted inside her purse.
“Maybe I’m being stupid, but I can’t stop thinking about that woman we met by the bathroom last night,” Emma said.
The brunette raised an eyebrow as she pulled a book out of her purse.
“I just saw her nearly throttle a poor woman she was walking past, and it sure seems like she’s rude to everybody, but she wasn’t... Well, she wasn’t very nice to you last night, and I just wanted to make sure you’re okay,” Emma rambled, feeling more ridiculous by the second. “That’s all. And I’m sorry if I’m prying or...” she took a breath. “Well, I’m not trying to stick my nose in your business or anything.”
The brunette flashed her a more genuine smile, and then she found her phone in her purse and started to tap away on it. After a moment, she turned the screen towards Emma. The blonde leaned forward to read the message:
‘It’s very kind of you to worry about me, but I’m fine. I’m used to get a few comments here and there. It’s unavoidable when you can’t answer people’s questions. Sometimes people take offense instead of thinking about that there could be a reason why someone doesn’t answer them.’
“Yeah, you’re right about that,” Emma nodded. “But that still doesn’t give her the right to be so rude.”
The brunette tapped away on her phone again, and a few seconds later she turned the screen towards Emma again: ‘I suppose it’s partially my own fault. I can whisper a little, but it tends to be very painful to do. So I try to avoid using my voice.’
“I can understand that,” Emma said. Now she actually felt really sorry for the brunette. To know that talking was physically painful for her wasn’t very nice. And it probably hurts to eat as well, Emma thought to herself. I mean, from what I saw yesterday...
“Tell you what,” Emma said and interrupted her own train of thoughts. It was time to lighten the mood. “Since we’re gonna be travelling buddies all the way to Vancouver, wouldn’t it be nice to know each other’s names?”
The brunette raised an eyebrow.
“I’m Emma,” Emma continued. “Emma Swan.”
The brunette smiled in something Emma could only describe as approval, and then she tapped something on her phone again. By the time she turned the screen, Emma was already leaning forward in her seat, eager to find out the name of her beautiful traveling companion.
“‘Regina Mills’,” Emma read aloud and looked up.
The brunette- Regina- smiled and nodded.
“Nice to meet you, Regina,” Emma said and returned her smile.
And soon the phone screen was turned towards her again. ‘Nice to meet you too, Emma Swan’.
To Be Continued............