Love on a Train
The moment Martha noticed Raymond on the train, everything her mother warned against erupted – romantic notions, palpitating heart, the desire to write it all in a novel and tell the world.
Martha lived and wrote that love story until the day Raymond handed her a sketch. “Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” The penciled profile resembled Martha… But when Raymond went away, she knew. She wasn’t the girl he planned to marry.
David was her father’s apprentice, everything Martha’s mother said made a good husband - hardworking, no romantic tendencies, no tolerance for writing about it.
Martha added a fictional happy ending to her and Raymond’s story and published it. Cleansed herself of romantic love, ready to marry David. Until a copy of her book appeared. Full of sketches, Raymond’s version of their love story, drawings that enticed her heart to beat once again.
“Want to see a picture of the girl I plan to marry?” Raymond’s face appeared, forced its way into my mind—the way he’d looked when I first met him, and the way he looked again when he asked me that question, both of us riding the train into Kansas City for our respective jobs. “Just got back from doing my part for the war,” he said in our very first conversation, and he meant the big war, the Second World War. “I build bridges. Right now I’m working on the Madison Bridge, not far from downtown. I’m building bridges for the city and building a whole new life for myself at the same time.” And then he smiled, looked at me in a way that told me there was so much more to what he’d said than just that he worked and built. We were the same inside, and I knew it that very moment. Hearing his voice and seeing his expression ignited tiny flames inside me. Flames that had flickered quietly far too long, done little more than lick the surface of my imagination. Until that day. Each time he spoke after that, something in me flared to life and heated me up from within, bringing what Mama called an unladylike glimmer to my eye. A glimmer that was identical to the one I saw in his eyes, but she never knew that. I never talked about Raymond to her. I didn’t dare. “I love words,” I said back to him that first time we spoke. “I have a secretary job, and sometimes I take dictation. Mr. Arnold, my boss, says I’m good at it.” I didn’t tell him Mama said it wasn’t proper for me to write my own words and stories, and that’s why I just copied everyone else’s.
Copied everyone else’s until I met him. After that, my own story erupted in full force. I couldn’t stop it. That’s when it finally began to grow.