Adina looked over her shoulder one final time at Jessica and Charity who were waving goodbye enthusiastically at the Amtrak in Kingstree. She smiled, felt the tears pooling at the corners of her eyes, and finally boarded the train. It took only a few minutes to find her seat and stow her carryon luggage in the bin. She put her carry on bag under the seat in front of her after digging out a paperback book and her MP3 player. Her friends were still visible from where she sat, so Adina waved back and smiled again before settling into the plush seat.
After dialing up her road trip play list, she opened her paperback. The train was scheduled to pull out of the station in about ten minutes. Her thoughts were distracted from the book, though, by the memory of her going away party the night before. Lauren had finally warmed up to the idea of her only daughter setting off on a journey across the country all by herself. She and Charles laid out a compromise in which Adina promised to call once each day and come home for holidays. In return they gifted her bank account with a sizeable lump of cash to get her started in her new life in Santa Barbara.
She had called her long distances friend Jordan Heller in Goleta to ask if he could make some appointments for her to look at apartments when she arrived. Adina had a reservation at a motel for a week, and was hoping she could take care of class registration and apartment hunting in that time frame.
Adina’s attention was pulled back to the present as the train started moving; the chuff-chuff of the engine as it worked to lug a multitude of half-packed passenger cars behind itself. She lowered the window and let the breeze filter in, breathing the fresh air before it mingled with the fumes of the train’s exhaust. The metal beast began to pick up speed and eventually the train was moving too fast to be worth the whirlwind coming through the window. Adina went back to reading her book, whiling away the hours until her first layover in Savannah.
In Savannah, Adina disembarked from the train. She could still feel her insides moving at 150 miles per hour. Stretching her legs out by hopping around a little bit, Adina slung her hand bag over her shoulder and walked into the train station, looking for a vending machine. She had foregone the expensive snacks from the restaurant car and had munched some trail mix and sipped from her own glass water bottle instead. The trip to Savannah hadn’t taken very long, only two hours or so, but Adina’s leg muscles were protesting nonetheless.
She found a bank of vending machines inside offering a plethora of options for her snacking pleasure. After making her purchases, she stowed her loot in her shoulder bag and walked through the gift shop, looking for post cards. She found a couple that were Savanah-themed and bought four: three for folks back home and one for her travel journal.
The layover was only thirty minutes, so Adina boarded the train, flashing her boarding pass at the tired looking ticket-taker. She resumed her seat and spent the remainder of the layover making out postcards for Charity, Jessica, and her parents.
Eventually the train began its slow, laborious attempts at travel again. Last minute stragglers were still looking for their seats, and as Adina was opening her paperback, the train lurched and a purse landed in her lap startling her.
“Oh, my. I am so sorry,” a woman said.
Adina looked up at her and smiled. She picked up the purse and held it out to a girl who looked like she was barely old enough to vote. The girl wore her hair in a medium- length French braid with the tail hanging over one shoulder. Her eyes were open and honest, in a shade of green Adina had never seen before.
“Quite alright,” Adina said, smiling at the young lady. “These things happen.”
The girl smiled and took the proffered purse before resuming her journey to her seat, which Adina noticed was three rows back from her own. She put her headphones back in and resumed reading her battered copy of Cabinet of Curiosities while munching on her vending machine lunch.