Momentarily startled, I hurriedly grabbed my messenger bag, whilst juggling my iPod, and moved into the aisle of the train carriage that was coming to a stop.
I glanced up and acknowledged the women vacating the window seat, with a smile. Expecting a smile back, I watched her carefully manoeuvre her briefcase around me as if I were the laser beam that would set off the alarm.
I was greeted with an abrupt nod.
I guess she was not in the “smiling back” mood.
Then again, I was usually not this happy at five o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, either. Particularly on sweltering days like today, where I’m crammed in with other commuters who are longing to enter the air conditioning of their suburban homes and who I’m sure are also wishing that Star Trek Transporter Beams were a reality (If they know what a Star Trek Transporter Beam is). Yes. I’m studying science at university. In fact, my good mood can be attributed to my study (or the lack of it). You see, the completion of exams and four months of summer holidays looming before you, with Christmas and New Years thrown in, is enough to place anyone in a happy or “smiling back” mood.
The sharp clicks of “Noddy’s” heels, as she descended the stairs to exit the train, were a reminder that I could now return to the two-seater and take the window seat that was previously occupied. Placing my messenger bag on my lap, I was reminded of the item I packed this morning. Instantly, I removed my headphones and placed my iPod in its compartment and then went about removing the item that had disturbed the normal shape of my bag. My paperback copy of Twilight was quickly opened and I continued my tradition of reading the Twilight series at the end of each university year.
A sharp movement from the train forced me to my right and I bumped into the person who had filled the vacant seat next to me – a person who I had failed to notice up until this point, since my thoughts were otherwise occupied. The stinging on my right arm jabbed at my thoughts and encouraged me to take notice.
The woman who sat next to me was probably in her sixties. She wore her gleaming, grey hair short so that it appeared that soft clouds were framing her face. Silver reading glasses, with what could be a diamond affixed to the outside of each lens, adorned her brilliant blue eyes and matched the sparkling diamonds that ornamented her ears. Another sparkling object stood out as I took further notice of her attire. A beautiful white gold brooch, a spiral of shooting stars, with tails made from a trail of small diamonds leading towards a sapphire at the centre of each five pointed star, was attached to the jacket of a beautiful midnight blue pant suit.
Ah, a sharp object! One that is probably responsible for the stinging in my arm.
I instinctively shut my book and grabbed the sore spot on my right arm with my left hand and began to massage it. The women turned to me, removing her glasses and placing them on what I would assume was her lap, since I struggled to drop my gaze from her concerned eyes. Eventually, the intensity was too much and I averted my gaze towards her lap. In the small amount of time I took analysing my neighbour’s appearance, I had failed to notice her reading material. Underneath her reading glasses was the unmistakeable cover of Twilight.
“Dear? Are you alright?”
I moved my head up sharply and was met with the worry etched face that belonged to the sophisticated English voice.
“Dear?” The women’s tone made me realise that while I’d been lost in my little world of analysing I had neglected to answer her.
I must look like an idiot.
I quickly glanced around the carriage and thankfully all the other commuters were oblivious to my strange behaviour, but the puzzled gaze of my neighbour suggested otherwise.
“Yes. Sorry, I’m fine. I’m sorry for bumping into you”, I stumbled. I attempted to converse confidently, but there was something about this woman that made me … jittery. There was just something peculiar about her. However, the way she talked was anything but peculiar. She was all niceness.
“Please, don’t worry about it. I’m perfectly unharmed, but I don’t know if I can say the same about you,” she said inclining her head towards the hand massaging my arm, then handling her brooch and shaking her head with a smile. She looked up at me with thoughtful eyes, “It serves as a reminder to me that every rose has its thorn, but I never intended for it to serve as a reminder to everyone else. I’m terribly sorry for its…sharpness.”
“Actually, I think you could say it was rather… blunt,” I blurted out without thinking. You see, living with my Dad, who says puns left, right and centre, for twenty years has had its affect on me. Suddenly realising that I had started opunning up with a stranger, I ducked my head and felt the heat rise in my cheeks and ears.
“Yes. I think the brooch made its point known,” said the women laughing. Instantly, I didn’t feel as stupid and I looked up to the woman’s amused expression and laughed too. Once our quiet laughter had died down, the woman fixed her glasses that had slid down her lap. “You are extremely quick witted for someone so young. I mean it as a good thing when I say that that is highly unusual.” I was glad she clarified.
“Thank you, ah…” I then realised I didn’t know “the woman’s” name.
She realised that too and quickly responded, “Mavis,” and extended her hand which I shook whilst introducing myself.
“It’s nice to meet you Mavis. I’m Audrey and the credit for my wit must be given to my father. I blame him for the crazy workings of my mind.” I started to use my hands whilst talking, a sign that I no longer felt jittery. In fact, I felt as if Mavis were an old friend. However, there was that underlying thought that Mavis was different that flittered in and out of mind, as did the thought questioning Mavis’ choice in reading.
“If you don’t mind me saying, Mavis, it is highly unusual to see someone like you with your current reading material,” I nodded towards her lap.
Mavis raised her eyebrows, “By “someone like me” I assume you were referring to my senior citizen status. Correct?”
I dropped my head and said ashamedly, “Well … yes, but I admire you for reading it. I think it is cool. I guess some of the characters are older so I could see how you could relate to them … and I’m rambling and putting my foot in it so I’m just going to stop.” Thankfully, Mavis just laughed and made me feel comfortable again. Mavis looked down at her lap and began handling her copy of Twilight.
“I know it is unusual for a woman my age to be reading Twilight, but even senior citizens, like myself, still like to dream of romance and that perfect guy.”
Ah, yes. Edward Anthony Masen Cullen. The vampire who many people saw as the perfect guy. I never had seen Edward that way. He had his flaws, but these flaws never stopped me from dreaming of what it would be like to meet Edward Cullen (bloodlust free), in his meadow. The corners of my mouth turned up just thinking about it, which I think Mavis noticed.
“Dreaming about your own “perfect guy”, dear?” Mavis became more animated whilst speaking, raising her hands and making quotation marks with her fingers.
Mystified by her actions, I smiled and then looked down at my lap before responding, “Yes. That’s the only place any guy who wants to be with me exists at the moment – in my mind.”
Mavis raised her eyebrows questioningly. “Maybe I should clarify,” I thought aloud.
I paused and hesitated whilst contemplating admitting personal information to a woman I had only known for ten minutes. Yet, in those ten minutes I had come to think of her as a confidante. Upon realisation of this, I continued.
“You see, I’ve never had a guy ask me out or be interested in me in that way. Sometimes I think there is a sign stuck above my head that only guys can see that warns them to stay away from me…” I trailed off, laughing as I spoke to try and hide my discomfort.
Mavis gently placed her left hand on my shoulder. “Sweetheart, I can’t confirm the sign hypothesis, for what I hope are obvious reasons,”- we giggled together- “but I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with you.” I felt the inevitable moisture and tingling sensation build up in my eyes and tried turning away from Mavis, but she would have none of it. “You are a beautiful, young woman. The right gentleman just hasn’t made his appearance yet.”
I wiped a small tear from my eye and looked up wistfully. “It would be so nice if Edward Cullen was that gentleman.” I rotated around in my seat to face Mavis and said, playfully, “If only he were real!” I did wish he was real, but as I pondered my words I felt the need to add to my statement, “And had no desire to suck my blood!”
Mavis laughed and offered me a warm smile. “Yes, if only he were real…” Mavis glanced quickly down at her book again and then continued. “Don’t worry, my dear. Your Edward is out there. He may be closer than you think.” Mavis looked past me and out the window. “Well, this is my stop. It was a pleasure meeting you, Audrey.”
I looked back into her caring, blue eyes, whilst she replaced her glasses, and shook the hand that was not holding her black, patent leather briefcase. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Mavis. Maybe we’ll see each other again?”
I hope I see her again.
By this time, Mavis was standing and descending the stairs to leave the carriage. She turned around. “Maybe we will, Audrey.” With that, the doors opened and Mavis hurried down the stairs - possibly a little too lively for a senior citizen in heels - and was gone.
Recollections of the conversation I had had with Mavis remained with me until I heard a new passenger address me.
“Excuse me. Is this your book, miss?”
The businessman inclined his head towards the seat Mavis had just vacated. There sat, what was undoubtedly, Mavis’ copy of Twilight. I pondered what I should do. If I said that the book was not mine then it would probably end up on the floor of the carriage or in someone else’s possession. Either way, it was not making its way back to Mavis. If, however, I said the book was mine then I would be able to look and see if Mavis had inscribed it with her details and hopefully return it to her. If there was no way to return the book, I’m sure Mavis wouldn’t mind me keeping it… At least that’s what I told myself, for it was a beautiful hardcopy.
I really need to stop drifting off into my own little world.
“Sorry. Yes, it is mine.” With that, I picked up the book and placed it, along with my own, into my messenger bag, as my stop was approaching. The man took the seat beside me.
I’d have to look inside Mavis’ book when I got home.
I bent over and kissed my Mum on the cheek, whilst she was reclined on the couch. She turned towards me covering a yawn, “Have the girls had their showers yet?”
I nodded. Surprisingly, my two younger sisters had showered and were in bed before 11pm.
Mum made a move to get up. “Good. God bless. Sweet dreams. Enjoy sleeping in tomorrow morning.”
“Don’t worry, I will.”
I moved towards my Dad. He was sound asleep in the recliner and would most probably stay there the rest of the night. I’d learnt, by now, that any attempts to say goodnight, or wake him when he was in this state, were futile. I watched Mum turn off the television before retreating to my bedroom.
I reclined on my bed, closed my eyes and began my ritual of analysing the day that had been. It didn’t take long for me to open my eyes, jump up from the bed and open my messenger bag that sat next to my desk.
How could I have forgotten to check Mavis’ book?
Returning to my bed, now holding Mavis’ copy of Twilight, I opened the front cover to try and find some contact details.
I searched on the inside of the back cover. It would be an unusual place for contact details, but I wouldn’t say Mavis was usual.
Flicking back to the front of the book, I noticed something was off. I slowed down and began to scan the pages. They were all blank.
No, no. They weren’t entirely blank.
At the base of every page was a page number.
The last page was labelled four hundred and thirty four.
I raced back to my messenger bag for my own copy of Twilight. It, too, had 434 pages. Closing both books and placing them on my bed, in front of me, I compared the covers. They appeared identical.
At a loss to try and explain the nature of Mavis’ book, I decided to call it a night and placed both books on my bedside table. Switching off the lamp, I felt the warm summer breeze against my face as my torso fell against my bed. My mind struggled to come to terms with the weird events of the day. As my eyelids were coaxed to a close by my weary brain, I resigned myself to the fact that maybe Mavis always intended to leave me that blank book. A blank book… and then my mind went blank as I slept.
The right side of my face was cold. My right cheek flesh felt as though it had been moulded into an irremovable Joker’s grin. Vibrations were pulsing up and down the right side of my face.
Oh God! Please tell me I’m not having a stroke!
Abruptly, I opened my eyes.
My knees were resting against a closed glove compartment and above it wipers worked at dispersing the water cascading down a windscreen. I peeled the right side of my face away from the window it had been resting against and welcomed the warm air provided by the air vents. My head ached. I attempted to rest it against my legs, but was restrained by a seat belt. I was jolted out of my sleep induced grogginess.
How on earth did I end up in a car?
I’m not one to even mentally swear, but the only thing I could do, as I shook, was breathe out a, “Shit!”
I sat staring straight ahead while my breathing produced a staccato melody. I turned sharply to my left when I felt a warm hand rest on my thigh.
“Calm down. Hey, calm down. It’s alright Dree.”
The American male, as his accent suggested, continued moving his hand in a soothing motion. I was anything but soothed as I stared at the middle aged driver of the vehicle I was trapped in. His short hair was wavy and damp from the rain and his cheeks were rough with stubble. His eyes were focused entirely on the road ahead, but his furrowed brow suggested that his thoughts appeared to be centred on calming me down. I followed his gaze, while glancing at him surreptitiously. The torrents of rain made trying to determine what lay outside of the car extremely difficult, yet I could see an undercurrent of green as I made use of my peripheral vision. I tried to make out more defined shapes as I looked out the window on my right. It was then that I realised that I was seated on the wrong side of the car if I was a passenger. I was seated on the right hand side of the car and not driving.
Audrey, you’re not in Australia anymore.
The rain began to ease off and the man removed his hand from my lap in order to adjust the wiper settings. A small amount of sunlight appeared from the overcast sky.
Please tell me a rainbow isn’t about to appear.
As we made our way around a bend, I soon discovered that I was not “somewhere over the rainbow.” A large sign stood by the side of the road, reading “Welcome to Forks.”
I must be dreaming. After all, it would make sense. The last thing I did before I slept was look at Twilight. I had Twilight on the brain and this has eventuated in me having a dream about driving to Forks.
The man adjusted the heat in the car, which drew my attention to the controls on the dash. His hand brushed against what appeared to be a radio as it retreated back to the steering wheel. Dream or no dream, the most likely candidate for the man sitting next to me was,