night train

I had got my ticket and walked the full length of the busy bustling platform. It was after ten, and the station was still lively, full of carioca’s and a hand hull of westerners. Amongst them animals of all sorts, chicken in coups, a few goats boarding the train and various exotic birds chained together and probably had their wings clipped too. The smells of it all mixed in with stale sweat and grime, which hit me as I boarded the sleeper.

Fairly busy for the nine hours across country to the jungle. I made my way along the narrow corridors, having to squeeze myself past several people at one time, catching glimpses of families, kids hunched over in the tiny sleeping compartments, staged three atop. I counted six people all cooped up like their animals in one, a whole family including the screaming baby. I scanned the numbers on the top, hoping that my sleeper would be away from any noise, all I wanted to do was get my head down and get some sleep, glancing at my ticket, held firmly in my hand. Forget the night I had had last night, or try and put it to the back of my mind.

Carriage four, sleeper 86. It seemed fairly quiet, someone playing the guitar at the end, hidden behind there curtain. A couple clearly making love, as the groans echoed out, now that was even worse than a screaming baby, I thought.

I found my number, and reached up to throw my rucksack up and stepped on to the bottom rung.

‘desculpe’ I smiled at the woman and child lying down on the bottom bunk, as I tried to pull myself up. Just as I did so the train lurched forward with a jolt and I slipped off sideways. Landing with a thump as my rucksack fell down on top of me. I heard a laugh from behind me, as the guitar had stopped playing. I could hear laughing, ‘sideshow entertainment for the low life’s and creeps on board’ I almost laughed with them.

‘relógio seu passo’ a female voice shouted out and I turned to see a female head, of plaited long blonde hair look out at me.

‘Watch your step’ she had said. My basic Portuguese running through my head.

“are you ok?” She asked, jumping down from her sleeper.

‘Single, white, female, I’m Serenity’ she smiled holding out her hand to help me up. Oh no another ageing hippy, guessing she must be at least forty. I laughed but it was the kinda forced laugh when your just not happy.

‘Hey, you look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, never mind your rucksack’ she joked.

‘ here’ she said holding out her hand still, as I decided that maybe not all strangers are bad.

The End

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