by little red pen
At the school fair last year, we won a ticket for two on the Taieri Gorge Railway. The ticket sat in my inbox, then it moved to Ian’s, then we moved house and had a summer and got settled back into the school year. So, finally, we got to last weekend and cashed it in. The Cat and I went, taking the train to Middlemarch.
I’d like to say we talked and played games all the way, but we didn’t. The Cat played soccer on the iPad and read his books, and I read too, hoovering up other worlds to quiet the worries and frazzled lists in my head. Every now and then, we’d emerge, catch each other’s eye. We’d tell a joke then, or have some food, or look out the window. We were company for each other, but gently, abstractedly so.
We walked in Middlemarch, stretching out our legs, taking photos, dancing around puddles and each other, chattering. We ate railway town food — a pie for the boy, toasted sandwich for me — and caught scraps of a soccer match on the café television.
The trip home seemed quicker, the scenery passing faster because we’d seen it before. The city was much the same when we got back, slicker with the rain we’d missed, but still hanging there in the still autumn air. But we had a little more space in our heads, perhaps, a lightness where we’d dropped out of the world and returned.