(Prior chapters, in chronological order can be found here)
Melody boarded the train that warm, sunny day in Kings Tree with a heavy heart and dried tears on her cheeks. Larissa and Mya had brought her to the train station and sat with her while she waited for her turn to board the silver beast. Jack hadn’t returned any of Melody’s calls since the day he stormed out of The Leaf & Bean. She thought he would eventually come around and at least say goodbye, but he hadn’t. No texts, no calls, nothing. It was as if they had never been friends.
She had been tempted to delay leaving Savannah for another week in an attempt to resolve the problem with her best friend, but she knew how easily one extra week had the potential to turn into two, then three, and then before she knew it, Melody would have missed her window of opportunity for the internship. Larissa and Mya had left when Melody heard the call to board the train that would eventually land her in California.
As she walked through the cars to find her seat, she was jostled by an impatient traveler from behind and Melody’s purse went flying into the lap of a woman who was staring out the window. She apologized to the woman profusely and moved over so the person behind her could go around. Melody didn’t understand what the hurry was; the train wasn’t going to pull out of the station for at least fifteen more minutes.
“I am so sorry,” Melody said for the third time as the other woman handed her purse back to her.
“It’s okay. These things happen,” the woman replied.
Melody clutched the purse and continued making her way to the seat that was hers, a few rows further down the aisle. She took her seat after stowing her carry on bag, and pulled out her cell phone. No missed calls, no text messages. She sighed and send Jack one last text message.
PULLING OUT OF THE TRAIN STATION SOON. I WISH I COULD HAVE SAID GOODBYE TO YOU, JACK. I’M NOT CHANGING MY PHONE NUMBER, SO IF YOU EVER WANT TO TALK TO ME AGAIN, YOU KNOW HOW TO REACH ME.
She hit the button that would send the words across an invisible network to be reassembled in their proper order at the other end where she knew Jack’s phone would play the ringtone assigned to her. Melody had no way of knowing if he would read it, or just delete it without opening it. As painful as it was to seemingly lose her best friend this way, Melody forced herself to get over the guilt she felt at leaving her life in Savannah behind. She just hoped the internship in California turned out to be worth it.
The train had been chugging along for a couple of hours and Melody felt her stomach rumbling in protest of its empty state. She made her way to the restaurant car where a chalk board informed her that the day's “special” was a patty melt on rye and her choice of potato, vegetable, and fruit. Melody counted the dollar bills in her possession currently and decided that she had enough to splurge a bit on a real meal.
As she was placing her order she noticed the young woman in whose lap her purse had landed earlier. The girl was playing some type of solitaire game using two decks of cards. The remnants of a club sandwich and a few forlorn-looking french fries sat to one side, ignored. The other tables in the restaurant car were full of people, so she wandered over and said hello.
“Hi. Do you mind if I join you?” Melody asked.
The girl looked up and smiled, a look of recognition in her eyes. “Not at all.” She watched Melody sit down and situate her food before speaking again.
“My name is Adina.” She reached a slender hand across the table.
“Melody. What are you playing?”
“This is a solitaire game called Blockade. I love solitaire, but playing the regular version gets a little boring after a while.”
Melody nodded her agreement as she took a bite of her sandwich. “Where are you from, Adina?”
“Myrtle Beach. I’m heading to Santa Barbara for college.” Adina dealt a few more cards and studied the tableau before her.
“Oh! I’m going to California, too” Melody said, excited. “I’m headed to Los Angeles. I majored in film and landed an internship out there with one of the movie studios.”
“Congrats,” Adina responded. She pursed her lips, and then gathered the cards into a large pile and began shuffling them. “My parents were less than thrilled when they discovered I had been accepted to a university in Santa Barbara. They thought I would just go to Coastal like they both did. Santa Barbara has an amazing art scene though, so it’s hard to turn down.”
Melody nodded again. “Parents often find that the plans they make for their children diverge from what the kids eventually want. My parents wanted me to stay in Savannah and work for a local news station. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I’ve never been to California. I’ve never even traveled by myself before now. I am ready for an adventure.”
“Me too,” Adina agreed. “Santa Barbara and LA aren’t that far from each other, are they?”
“It’s a couple hours depending on traffic, I think,” Melody responded. “I’m going to get an apartment in Santa Monica though. I don’t want to live right in the middle of Los Angeles.”
“You haven’t started looking yet?”
“No. I’m going to stay at a hotel for a few days while I look and get settled into my new job.”
“Is it a paid internship?” Adina asked.
Melody tilted her head, “Barely. It pays minimum wage for the first year. After that, if the studio decides to hire me on permanently, I will have to negotiate my salary.”
“So it has it’s good and bad side. What will you be doing?”
“I am not sure yet. I am hoping for camera operation or something along those lines,” Melody said. She finished her sandwich and downed the last of her drink.
“Thanks for letting me sit with you,” Melody said as she rose, “It was nice meeting you.”
Melody cleared her dishes and garbage from the table before making the short trek back to her seat. She stared out the window for a while, eventually falling asleep from the lull of the train rocking it’s way down the rails.