The Conductor

“Welcome aboard madam,” the conductor says with a deep bow and a sweep of his arm after his descent to the platform in front of me.

I study his face as he straightens - he seems familiar but I’m unable to remember when or where I may have seen him before. Short black hair, swept to the right and heavily gelled, sits atop a brown-eyed face full of laughter and youth. The skin on his forearms and face has seen a lot of sun, perhaps too much.

“Thank you,” I say as I step up into the passenger car. I turn and survey the silent platform for a final time, not quite ready to leave it behind though I know it is my time to go. “How long before the train starts moving again?”

The conductor pulls a shiny silver watch from his shirt pocket and flips it open with practiced grace. The movement triggers a flash of memory - a crowded market, foreign voices, the blazing afternoon sun’s unmerciful heat, a young man… but then it is gone into the mists of history.

“It shouldn’t be more than a few minutes madam,” he says with a smile that ignites his eyes. Those eyes…


“It is good to see you again madam.” Another bow, this one even deeper than the first.

The memory comes rushing back in full this time. The summer in Italy after university, criss-crossing the country in a tiny, battered rental car; meeting Marco in Amalfi’s street market and the two intimate weeks that followed; the fine wine and sensational food. I feel my cheeks flushing, even after all this time.

“And you, mio caro,” I whisper. “It has been too long… but you are looking just as I last saw you, unless my old eyes betray me once more?”

“No, it is true mi amore,” he says with a slight shrug. “My train arrived a few long months after our lips last parted - a rainy night, I was careless behind the wheel. A fool’s mistake, but it is not so bad here I think - I travel the world like I always wanted to… just not in the manner I dreamed of.”

I smile and nod before looking over my shoulder into the shadowed hallway. I turn back to him with a question forming on my lips but he is expecting it and his answer is faster.

“To the right you will find the dining car,” he says as he reaches for the handle of the sliding door. “To the left, the theatre.”

“And which should I visit first?”

“That, madam, is up to you.” A flash of brilliant white teeth, the door begins to close. “I will see you again soon - please, make yourself at home.”

The End

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