Waiting is never easy whether it is for Christmas morning or the dentist’s nurse to call your name. Waiting is just full of some emotion....excitement, worry, boredom, dread, anticipation...all are emotions precipitated by waiting.
This story is about waiting.....waiting as letters pass in the mail....waiting as the train moves along....waiting for arrivals.....waiting for a blind date, but really so much more!
As Russell rocked back and forth jerking along with the rhythm of the train he thought about how long he had been waiting for this day, this coming time, the next few hours that would bring reality to a dream.
He tried to imagine the first moments, what would be expected. He expected Kathleen to be just like her letters and photos, soft and yet practical, plain and yet beautiful! He wants these things so badly, for her to be real, the real he has come to know so well in his mind.
He had a vision of how it would be, he wondered if her thoughts were anything like his. Their conversations had become more and more personal, learning of her family, her job, her love of the natural world, but all of these conversations lacked the real “spark” of emotion, the moment their eyes met and he took her hand.
He felt certain this was love, this excitement he felt added to the pleasant way he felt reading her letters.
Their conversations they called them, but in fact they have never spoken.
The train was a pleasant distraction, the movement convincing him with each jerking motion, that it was bringing him closer to the moment that could mean his future. So much hung in the balance but he believed he was ready.
The clock seemed to be ticking louder than usual as Kathleen sat with the box of letters in her lap, Kathleen has been reliving their conversations. Funny that’s what Russell had started calling them, conversations, he said he liked to imagine her voice speaking the words instead of the pen scratching along the paper.
She liked that part of him, a bit romantic and light, not all business and formal, but she had been raised to be practical, romance was nice but solid, strong and respectful was what she should be looking for in a lasting friendship that could possibly turn to love.
Her own secret mind’s idea was, finding love is not like buying a new tea kettle, looking for durability, but rather, looking for that special admiration, how she would admire his generosity of thought and deed, his care to look to her ideas and wishes as often as his own.
Her cat, Bruno, a big dark fur-ball of a creature has been demanding her attention, and now she pulls him up to her lap. “Tell me Bruno, am I being a silly girl? The lovely thing about talking to Bruno, his purrrr can mean anything you wish it to mean. She laughs as she wonders what Russell would think if he knew she talked to her cat.
They had exchanged photos so she had a general idea of his appearance but the photos were so formal, so posed, he looked stiff and uncomfortable, this encouraged her to believe he would be even better in person after the initial shyness. She imagined both would be shy but strangely she didn’t feel shy, she wanted to see him and touch the solidness of his hand to just try to sense the total man in a moment.
She glanced at her bedside clock trying to figure in her mind how many hours yet, the waiting was becoming almost painful. She had made the mistake of planning early, fussing now with her clothing would pass the time but she had it all ready.
“Come on Bruno, let’s go get a cup of tea”.
Russell always enjoyed watching the variety of folks on the train, he had been so deep in thought that he had hardly noticed them until now but it would help the time pass, the waiting, if he spent time looking at the scenery and his fellow passengers.
A young family is so busy tending a fussing baby, handing the baby back and forth to see who has the touch today to quiet the infant. A nice looking elderly couple, her wringing a handkerchief half to death while he slept, his mouth hanging open a glisten of spit on his lip. Down the way a bit , a businessman busy with a briefcase for a table, on his lap he worries over a folder full of papers. And finally, a half grown boy traveling by himself trying to look brave, but only accomplishing a nervous scowl.
He wondered as he often did about their stories, we are all so different, each with an evolving drama called life. He turned to the window now and watched as the fields and woodlots slid by, the movement hypnotic. At a crossing, gates down and lights flashing two boys on bicycles wave to the engineer or anyone watching.
His mind going back to Kathleen now, mostly her smile, in the photos that is what was constant, different costumes, different locations but the smile was constant, so pleasant as though life had been kind, no bitterness or anger or sadness. He thinks it is not likely she could be anything else but sweet.
Checking his watch again, he must stop looking so often, it just makes the time seem slower. Thinking of ways to speed the clock, he thinks taking a walk to the dining car will loosen his stiffness and the wrinkles in his suit. He walks the length of the car, nods to the elderly lady and decides he would rather go back to his seat and study Kathleen’s photos.
He realizes now how nervous he is becoming, this waiting, it is more than tedious. Taking out Kathleen’s photos, he has them in a folding case so he can see them all at once or scan his eyes over each in turn. He can not help but smile and he feels the tension ebb away.
Can he be looking at his future wife?
Will she ever agree to love him? So many questions?
The conductor comes by to punch tickets and tell them the train is on time.
Arrival in one hour. One Hour! Finally the Waiting will be over!
Russell thinks this must be what a blind date feels like but he knows this is no silly blind date!