A Journey to the Past.
While she loaded her final box of belongings onto the Tourist Railway train, Andrea could not determine whether her actions were selfish. Many people probably would consider booking two cabins on the most frequently used train during the beginning of summer a significant inconvenience. The train station was renamed 'Tourist Railway' because of the usage rates. Packed with people ready for fantastic adventures, they often brought little or no luggage. Any part of year the train was crowded. Frequently, there were moments when people shared cabins with strangers at a discount because they might miss their departure otherwise. Immeasurable profits were made by this train station's exceedingly high ticket prices. Providing discounts during times of great travel desperation did not concern the company financially.
Perhaps Andrea's thoughts were misguided because she was not alone; Mia and Jane were joining her. The two cabins were necessary for their long journey to Lush Island she realized as Mia and Jane helped her step onto the train. Hearing other passenger's crying out “wait for me! I did book a ticket! Someone help me,” as the doors slammed shut started irritating all who could hear, not simply the trio. If the others had arrived on time, perhaps they would have found a spot.
The trio arrived at 5:00 AM, the station's opening time. Their train did not leave for until 12:00 PM. However, they needed plenty of time for storing their belongings. If there was any other way to reach their destination, they would have avoided this train. Regardless, leaving Bright City for years was a relief because they still had each other.
Technically, Mia and Jane were tourists; soon they would be locals. Andrea was created and raised on Lush Island, albeit she had not returned for decades. Would the new developments cause her to feel as much confusion as a tourist felt or would returning remind her of childhood? Upon the death of Andrea's mother, there was nothing binding her to Bright City. No relatives alive could protest, therefore, she sold her Bright City home and used funds from the sale (and some) additional family wealth for the move.
Climbing aboard the train, Andrea recalled the morning; unpleasant and confusing. Hopefully the rest of the overnight trip would be better.
“Why exactly are we here this early? I feel ill Andrea...” complained Jane, yawning and genuinely appearing ill. Leaning against Andrea's shoulder preventing her from falling.
“Andrea's such a sweetheart; she would never admit it's YOUR fault! We need time for all of us; your luggage will take several hours,” snarled Mia, irritated with both Andrea's insistence upon being prepared and realizing she packed her coffee machine. Restaurants weren't open this early, therefore, they could not make a quick detour for breakfast. Breakfast would have helped Jane too. Andrea would not benefit given she was an android. Fortunately, she did not need an excuse for avoiding mealtime, as she often needed to provide. Normally Andrea would have broken up the fight. However, she could not disagree with Mia. Both girls combined would take up less space compared with Jane alone.
Standing at the door of Tourist Railway, Andrea spent time focusing. Inadvertently, she caught her own reflection in the glass door. Blonde, blue-eyed her face had the perfect clear complexion. Neither too thin nor fat, she thought 'at least an android's reflection shows up' unlike many stories say about vampires. Some would have laughed; Andrea had difficulty expressing emotions visually because she was an android. Her friends could convey their opinions without words.
Pressure was riding on the success of their move, including whether staying together or parting ways would have been best. Finally high school graduates, the trio were moving away for college, possibly for life. This trip represented the most significant parts of their young adult lives. Their families shoved them out, telling the girls they should find new homes and jobs.
Leaning directly against the door, Jane almost fell into the lobby when the door opened. The morning worker was shocked by the presence of people at the train station so early. Mia took over filling in paperwork, while Andrea and Jane started packing their luggage onto the train. Andrea knew she must 'blend in' with the crowd to prevent any adverse situations. If she could use her speed and strength enhancements without causing a riot, packing would be done in a few minutes for all three people.
The trio decided loading Jane's luggage first would be best. She brought the most with her. Determining where Mia and Andrea would place their own luggage would depend on how full the first cabin became. Passing Jane's boxes of various sizes and sorting them was a work out.
“Guess what time it is girls,” Mia asked upon checking her phone. Several texts were piling up, yet she would be unable to reply until significantly later. Both girls shrugged their shoulders, correctly guessing a few hours passed while the group worked on packing Jane's items.
“It's 7:30AM! We aren't remotely close to finishing with you Jane! With all the lifting we're going have 'body builder' arms! Don't forget about us,” Mia frantically gestured to herself and Andrea.
“Frankly, your exhaustion, lack of sleep and hunger provides no excuse for rude behavior. Hand me my bag please,” Mia gave Andrea her bag.
Taking out her debit card, she said,
“I'll make certain your belonging's are safe. There's a restaurant across the street. Buy yourself and Jane breakfast. My treat. I can control myself until lunch.” Mia ran away so fast she could almost beat Andrea's super speed if they raced.
“Don't just stand there, make use of time away from the 'drama queen.' Focus on packing without her complaining in the background,” scolded Andrea.
Moving swiftly, Andrea's remarks reminded Jane of her mother. Chronologically, Andrea was an older woman. However, Andrea could change her appearance at will. She would often 'start over' as a teenager/young adult once those around her began dying and/or believed she could be a problem. Perhaps her 'motherly instincts' were awakening.
Resembling a factory assembly line, the girls continued packing Jane's boxes. Away for so long, Andrea and Jane contemplated whether Mia would ever come back. She should not have been surprised by the line's length at 8:00AM, yet Mia was confused upon her return. Perhaps a lack of food caused the poor behavior of the girls. Taking a break, Mia and Jane leaned against the side of the train. Eating basic fast food, the girls finished quickly.
While they ate Andrea continued working. She 'cheated' slightly as she placed her own luggage in the empty second cabin. Andrea moved faster while the others were eating. Distracted, they did not notice her using strength and speed enhancements. Although she brought a few larger furniture items, the majority of her luggage was enclosed in a few boxes. Her most important box contained 'fragile items;' her mother's research materials. Racing against the clock, she hoped further distracting her friends would prevent them from noticing her 'cheating.' They were no longer joking when pointing out the likelihood of Jane taking over the first cabin.
As the clock kept ticking, Andrea shouted from where she stood,
“Hey Mia, do you want me help pack your luggage? I know there is plenty of space in the second cabin, nothing will be crushed. I can't say the same about the first. I suspect only Jane's items will fit. You should stay with her, she still does not look well.”
Being jolted out of a brief sleep, Mia thanked Andrea and kept watch over Jane. Thankful the girls were looking elsewhere, Andrea kept moving. Jane fell in/out of 'sleeping' frequently. Whether she was hopelessly tired, ill or faking did not matter; the important thing was keeping them distracted. The clock was ticking as 10:00AM arrived and the packing was still unfinished. Mia was glad she simply had to watch Jane. Conversation might cause WWIII. Jane was more exhausted versus ill, although exaggerating helped her avoid packing. Why Andrea wanted to work alone was something neither girl questioned.
Normally more help would be appreciated while completing such an arduous task. However, Andrea was extremely grateful she could work alone and 'cheat' slightly before crowds arrived and others noticed. Yet, if androids could become violently ill, Andrea would have vomited. There were more of Jane's items hidden behind Mia's items. Believing she was almost done, Andrea realized as the clock chimed 11:00AM they would be cutting it close. Mia glanced over and noticed a slight increase in speed, yet was unsure if she was dreaming or really seeing Andrea moving at such a pace.
As 11:30AM arrived, Andrea ran for the girls, shaking them both awake. Finally, Andrea needed their help. Noting the largest of Jane's items were unpacked in addition to the late arrival of numerous passengers caused Andrea to cease 'cheating.' Blending in would help more. Making space for other passengers to enter the train was difficult. The trio were given looks of contempt upon seeing how much they were bringing. Passengers were forced to crawl around the boxes. Those who brought their own luggage were at a disadvantage.
When 12:00PM arrived, the trio barely boarded the train. As the train moved several of Jane's boxes still needed packing. All three hoped she would not be required to leave some items in the hallway. Her grunts of frustration and exhaustion made Jane sound like she was pushing boulders up a large mountain. Her sweat was dripping onto the final box and train floor.
“Come on, fit...pretty please,” Jane pleaded with the doors of the first cabin. Clearly she did not listen well when the girls discussed going through their belongings and donating or selling excess items. The doors relented and her final box fit. As they predicted, her items stole most of the cabin space, leaving no room on the cots for Jane.
“What do you mean you won't let me stay with you! I thought you did not mind sharing! What happened to my best friends,” Jane whined as she laid down on one of the cabin two cots, nearly passing out from exhaustion. The morning's early breakfast and extra sleep did little for her.
Pushing her off the cot, Jane barely prevented a full crash into the train floor. Her hands were scrapped and slightly bleeding because no carpet was present. At last, she was forced awake by the shock of being shoved off.
Mia smugly remarked,
“listen, it's not our fault you over-packed. Andrea and I condensed our lives into several small boxes. If the town doesn't have something you need, online ordering will suffice. Lacking the entrepreneurial skills for selling or for showing kindness by donating/handing down unnecessary items may become your downfall. I'm dreading when you open the doors. All your belongings will likely fall onto you, smashing you into the floor. Other guests would step over or directly upon you.”
Stepping between the girls, Andrea ended their fighting. Instead, she grabbed one of her boxes from the upper storage compartment and retrieved an emergency medical supply kit. Firmly yanking each of her hands away, Andrea treated Jane's wounds.
Hearing Jane's deafening cries, Andrea commented,
“Please don't be such a baby, have you never had alcohol poured on a wound? You're such a clumsy woman you receive a new injury everyday. Hydrogen Peroxide is a waste of money versus the more effective alcohol. Perhaps the best choice for this trip is laying on the floor for 24 hours. You would still injure yourself doing nothing given your previous experiences.” Looking for fabric bandages, Andrea took a break from her lecture. Jane's eyes were tearing up. Andrea suspected Jane's wounds/alcohol were not the primary cause. Words hurt too. Upon finding the bandages, Andrea finished tending to Jane's wounds.
“I honestly hope the glass on the windows is unbreakable. I don't believe Andrea has enough supplies for removing glass shards and performing stitches safely... Neither of us would know how to anyway...,” Mia added, gently picking up Jane and sitting her on the cot.
“I'm sorry for my words earlier, they were rude in general. Furthermore, a wounded individual does not need the pain of ridicule too,” Andrea said. Thankfully, hanging your head down in shame represents as much as a facial expression of guilt. Changing from earlier slight mockery, Andrea believed she sounded kinder. Verbally expressing emotions proved less challenging. Unfortunately, decades of practicing combining verbal and visual expressions resulted in little improvement. 'Slow and steady wins the race,' her late father would say during times of struggle. The brief moment of excitement before the train departed changed into anxiety for Andrea. What if the trip and their lives grew worse?
After being elbowed by Andrea, Mia apologized too. The trio looked out the window; seeing fog confused them. No fog was present as they left. Apparently, the windows were not adequately cleaned. Potentially interesting scenery would be hidden from view. Recalling her childhood trip to Bright City from Lush Island, Andrea saw nothing worth remembering. She doubted anything special would appear many years later.
Giving Jane her cot for the night, Andrea settled the matter of sleeping arrangements. Whether in the hall or if there was enough space for the trio to share was the question. The trip only took a day; sleeping on the floor with boxes beside her did not bother Andrea. At peace with each other, the girls took a nap. They could not understand why the train was so highly regarded when the food was apparently poor, the cabins and windows left unclean and each cabin the size of a child's closet. Thus far, the most interesting activity of the day was the race against the clock to pack.
The train could not arrive at Lush Island. The closest place was the Tree Town Railway Station. From there, Andrea reserved a large moving vehicle which would arrive shortly after the train arrived. Hopefully, the unpacking/repacking process would be quicker.
Fortunately, the truck arrived on schedule and the two employees helped the girls move everything as necessary. One employee, named Carl Smith was especially helpful. He found the girls interesting, especially Andrea. She noticed his gaze and wondered if androids were capable of feeling true love.
Traveling down a bumpy road, the trio finally glimpsed the quaint Tree Town. Andrea could not control herself as she excitedly pointed out each of the buildings she remembered from many decades ago. Her feelings of nostalgia finally placed a grin on her face. Technology updated as time moved forward, yet much remained the same. The movie theatre where she saw her first film repainted the fading sign; otherwise it appeared the same. What movies would she and her friends see?
Andrea noticed the town market and convenience store had the
children/grandchildren of the original owners maintaining them. She was shocked by such a small change. Eager to explore the old town, Andrea's deepest desire was returning home. Formerly a poorly maintained hotel with significant controversy surrounding its' operations, her father bought and remodeled the building into an extremely large tropical island home. With no more tourists provided a significant amount of space. The girls could live individually in the same location.
Finally, they reached their destination. All were in awe of the beautiful scenery. The helpful employees worked from midday until sunset to satisfy them. Larger rooms needed decorating, likely with furniture left in a Bright City warehouse. They would also need their cars brought over. Bothersome as those facts were, at sunset, the moving employees and trio all took their shoes off and stepped out towards Andrea.
Andrea, barefoot, was only a few inches from the ocean. Memories of her time living on a private island as a child returned. Swimming across the ocean, diving deep under the water and interacting freely with sea creatures were her most vivid memories. She was still developing a sense of control and told if a human had done what she had, they would be dead. Humans can't hold their breath too long, and some of the creatures she played with were deadly. She would often sneak out at night to swim carelessly, like an android instead of 'blending in.'
The sun and sand felt warm on the skin of all present. Fading from yellow, orange, red and finally purple the sunset was beautiful. The waves were rather strong and everyone was splashed by several in rapid succession. Fortunately, nearby fish did not penetrate their clothing. A significant amount of sand and water hit them however. Grains of wet sand and the saltwater drenching them felt pleasant after the long hot journey from Bright City to Lush Island. Glad they had no more work for the day, the movers brought a few beach chairs out and all five sat and enjoyed the view of the full moon and stars reflecting onto the ocean.
The stars aligned for the girls. They all looked dreadful, yet Carl and his co-worker asked them if they wanted someone to show them around the next day. They basically wanted a date. Although someone would be the 'fifth wheel' all agreed. Whether the next day was as beautiful as the sunset, or if anything would move beyond a first date was uncertain. Gentle wind stroked the trio's skin, slowly drying them before they went inside. Shower water would feel almost as soothing as the ocean.