Strangers on a Train
“Is this seat taken?”
Josie looked up from the magazine article that she was half-heartedly reading and smiled at the young girl. “Not that I know of,” she replied, glad to have some company for the last part of her journey.
The girl plonked her capacious bag on the seat near the window and settled herself next to it with a weary sigh.
Josie pretended to resume her reading, but found herself distracted by the girl. She was a pretty young thing with an open friendly disposition. “Nice day,” she remarked.
The girl nodded. “Yes, thank goodness; railway stations seem so drab in the rain don’t they? Are you travelling far?”
“Scarborough,” Josie replied.
“Same here,” the girl said delving into her bag. She produced a packet of sweets and offered Josie one.
“Have you been to Scarborough before?” Josie said accepting a soft, chewy jelly. “It’s a beautiful place I understand.”
“Yes it is indeed. You’ll love it. It’s my home town and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Josie smiled again. “I’m going to see my son. He’s just started up in business there. He seems to like it.”
The girl grinned. “That’s nice.”
“He’s a computer consultant,’ Josie said with motherly pride. “I feel so lucky. Ever since he was at secondary school he’s been fascinated with computers, and now he makes an ample living from them. He was one of the fortunate few these days to have chosen an ideal career.”
“That’s my line too,” the girl volunteered. “I’m in partnership with a friend. We met up at University and decided to start our own business. I’ve been visiting a prospective new client.”
Josie was impressed. The girl didn’t look the intellectual type. She was petite, almost elfin-like, with a sweet, gentle face of an innocent child. She surveyed the girl’s clothing - hardly a normal outfit for visiting clients, but there again what did she know about business? In her day it would have been the smart grey suit and plain white blouse, not tight fitting jeans and casual top.
Perhaps the girl read her mind because she brushed mud off her trousers and explained that the premises she had been visiting had been extremely messy.
“I was just thinking how cool you look and wishing I hadn’t worn this thick suit,” Josie said. “It took me ages deciding what to wear today, and now I’m sure I made the wrong choice. You see my son has just got engaged wants me to meet his fiancée. I keep telling myself that he’s always had good taste so she’ll be a lovely girl and I’ve nothing to worry about, but what if we don’t take to each other? John told me that she’s absolutely fabulous, but I don’t know if that refers to her housewifely capabilities or her intellectual accomplishments. One hears such stories about future mother-in-laws - always finding fault with their offspring’s choice. Oh dear, I’m sorry I really shouldn’t be babbling like this - only I’m so nervous.”
The girl’s eyes twinkled. “I’m sure she’ll be equally nervous at the prospect of meeting you. It’s strange why we women always get in a tizzy about what to wear, when really it’s the personality that matters isn’t it? If it’s any consolation I think that outfit is a glorious shade and suits you down to the ground. I only wish I could wear red, but with my hair I fear not.”
Josie relaxed. It was a relief to have another woman’s opinion, and what indeed did it matter? John’s fiancée would have to take her as she was, warts and all. As long as they were happy together nothing else mattered. She was pleased he had found someone to share his life and looked forward very much to the wedding. By the time the train pulled into Scarborough station the two women were chatting as if they had been friends for ages.
“Thank you,” Josie said gathering her bits and pieces together. “I’ve enjoyed your company. Now it’s time to meet the fray. Wish me luck.”
She followed the girl on to the platform and soon spotted John shouldering his way through crowd. He greeted her with a bear hug, and then turned to the girl who had stopped close by. He chuckled and twirled the girl off her feet. “So you had no difficulty in picking her out, Maisie love?”
“None whatsoever. Your description was extremely accurate, except you didn’t say how young looking and attractive your mother is.”
“You mean… you two are…” gasped Josie. “Well I never. There was I scared to death of meeting you.”
Josie laughed. “This was John’s idea. I was apprehensive about meeting you too. He told me how capable you are, and how you marvellously you coped when his father was killed. It must have taken a lot of courage to carry on the way you did. He thought it might break the ice if we met as strangers.”
Josie rolled her eyes. “I need a cup of tea.” The end.