I was sore after school. I was sore as I walked to the train station. I was sore waiting for the train. I was even more sore as I stepped onto the Red Car trolley. Yet, when I saw her on board the train, everything was fine. She didn’t even notice me when I sat down across from her; she was deep within a novel. The trolley tooted its horn and I lurched back as it began down the Santa Ana line. The crimson beams from the late afternoon sky made her white poodle skirt a warm cream, her blue eyes electric, and her red hair scarlet. The scent from passing orange groves blowing through the open windows added to her allure.
I couldn’t strike up a conversation so I took a half eaten apple from my school bag and rolled it towards her feet. She didn’t even flinch when it tapped her foot. “Ahem,” I cleared my throat. “Excuse me, could you, uh….” She looked down at the apple, picked it up by the stem, and handed it to me.“Thanks” I
smiled. “Whatcha reading there?”
“It’s a new novel. Just came out. It’s called A Separate Peace.
“Then why read it all?”
She placed the book at her side. “Alright Mr. Critic,” she sneered, pointing at a magazine sticking out of my bag, “what are you reading?”
“Hot Rod Magazine”
“Where’s your car, Motorhead?”
“Ha! Why do you think I’m riding the Red Car?”
“Your jalopy get impounded?” she laughed.
“No. Somebody stole my bike at school. Who even rides trains anymore…?”
She asked me if I actually read books. I told her I enjoyed reading but I never had the time too. My favorite author is Jules Verne. Nobody writes adventure like Verne.
“When I get my drivers license,” I told her, “I’ll explore like Captain Nemo. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea? How’s Two Thousand Miles Across the U.S. for ya.” She giggled and moved across the aisle to sit beside me.
“My question now is,” she laughed, “will you make it to the center of the earth?”
“Now arriving at Stanton Station!” The conductor yelled some time later. “Well, this is my stop.” I said solemnly. “I had a swell time talking with you. If only…I had a way of contacting you….” She wouldn’t budge. I sadly stepped onto the Stanton platform numberless. I turned and looked at her through the window. She smiled at me. I waved and turned around as the trolley began to pull away.
“Hey you!” She shouted at me. I turned around at the departing trolley. She was leaning out of the window as she shouted, “I live on -” TOOT TOOT!!! She was cut off by the trolley horn. I shouted out that I didn’t hear her but she only waved and smiled. Before the trolley was too far I yelled at the top of lungs, “You’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever met!!!”
The next day after school I made sure I got to the station the same time as the day before; I hoped she would be on the same train. When I got to the station I was startled to find it closed, an elderly station master sweeping the platform. “Where are the trains?!” I asked him.
“No more Red Car son.”
“Haven’t you heard son? They’re tearing up the track. A freeway from L.A. to Orange County will take its place. Who rides trains anymore…?”