Thursday, May 17, 2018

seaside holiday

Started by Delores a long time ago, this rotating celebration of words and the magic they make was begun to encourage creative writing. Each week a selection of prompts are posted, which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What is created with those prompts is up to the writer and imagination: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or whatever they make the writer think of.  Some creative minds put their creations in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. If you enjoy reading their words, please comment to encourage.  The prompts will be on the Elephant's Child blog this month and are provided by Margaret Adamson, and her friend Sue Fulton. They also include photographs taken by Margaret's friend Bill Dodds.

     The owners of the Rocking Horse Inn decided to close for a week in early May before their busy season started, and Merribell took advantage of the break to get away for the first long vacation since her mother had died.

     Impulsively, she took a train along the coast, not sure where she would get off to stay the night.  She wanted for just one week to not have to think or worry about what her future held, so she had decided to just ride the train until she saw a town that seemed like it would be interesting to explore.  Never before had Merribell taken a trip without weeks of planning, packing, unpacking, repacking, and multiple lists for every day.  There would be a list of what to pack, what to bring, what to see, where to eat, what to do, where to stay ... and even lists of where she could be reached that she would leave at home with her father.

     This time she simply made sure he had her cell phone number and told him to leave messages if she didn't answer since cell service may be spotty while on the train.  Throwing another pair of jeans in a duffel bag with three other shirts and changes of underclothes, she grabbed a jacket with a removable liner and headed out the door.  Later on the train, she realized she hadn't even grabbed her toothbrush, and bought a pack of gum at the small snack galley on the train.

     As she watched the scenery change outside her window, she drifted off to sleep.  When the jolting of the train woke her suddenly, she was confused by the darkness inside the train and outside the window.  Looking at her watch, she realized that it should have still been daylight.

     "Don't worry, miss.  The train had to stop while this car was still in the tunnel.  Apparently, there is a large animal of some sort blocking the tracks ahead of us, and the engineers are waiting for it to move."

     The man's voice was coming from the seat facing her, yet she couldn't see him in the darkness.

     "An animal large enough to stop the train?  Is it dangerous?" she asked.

     "No, I think not.  It appears to be injured.  Probably was hit by another train and hasn't been able to get off the track.  They are trying to determine how to move it.  I heard someone say it was a moose, and another person said it was an elk.  But I also heard some young children saying it was Sasquatch, so I don't really know.  The conductor has his hands full trying to keep a passenger car of school children from getting off the train to run and see what it is, and I didn't want to bother him further.  But we are in no danger, other than perhaps boredom and missing a connecting train if you had one ahead."

     "No.  I didn't have a connection to meet.  I'm on holiday, so was just enjoying the scenery along the coast, although there isn't much to see in a tunnel, is there?"

     Normally Merribell would have been too shy to speak to a strange man but the darkness of the train car, and the kindness in his voice seemed to make her feel more comfortable and confident than she might have been in the light.  Knowing also that there were other people in the car also seemed to put her at ease.

     The man laughed gently.  "No, there is not much of that.  Although there could be bats along the roof of the tunnel, it would be difficult to see them.  Before we entered the tunnel the coastal fog was moving inland so you couldn't even see the beach anymore."

     "Oh.  I suppose then it is a good thing I napped when I did.  Are you on holiday also?"

     "No, I'm traveling on business."

     "What sort of business do you do?"

     "At the moment I'm actually between businesses.  I'm in the restaurant industry, and I invest in small local restaurants.  I believe in keeping businesses local, and so often large commercial chain restaurants come into an area and put the small locally owned restaurants out of business.  I help to keep them afloat by offering advice and sometimes refurbishing the buildings or rejuvenating their menus."

     Merribell smiled in the darkness.  "You sound too nice to be Chef Gordon Ramsay!"  Realizing that she may have just offended him, she gasped "Please say you aren't him."

     The man's laugh then was deep and pleasant.  "No, I'm not him.  But in a way, I do what he has done.  Only I'm much friendlier and better looking."

     It was Merribell's turn to laugh.  "Oh, thank goodness!  I was so afraid I had offended you."

     "Not at all.  Tell me now what you do, now that I've shared."

     As the two of them easily chatted in the darkness of the train car and tunnel, Merribell told him about her once-upon-a-time of becoming a veterinarian, her mother's illness and subsequent death, and her work at the Inn.  She talked about her father and younger brother and wanting to one day open her own restaurant named after her mother that would help support her father and put her brother through college.

     In turn, he told her more about himself.  Growing up with a single mother who taught him to cook in order to feed himself and his three younger siblings while his mother worked three jobs to support them.  His father, a Marine, had died during the early days of the Gulf War and how he had been forced to grow up fast to become "the man" of their family.  He had gone to work on the weekends, washing dishes at a local restaurant, when he was sixteen, the only two days his mother had off when she could watch his younger brother and sisters.  As soon as he got out of high school, he had begun working full time in the kitchen at the restaurant and part-time washing dishes at another so that his mother could rest and only work one job.

     He had been mentored by the owner of the restaurant who had expanded his cooking skills and interest.  Twice a year he would take charge of the restaurant while the owner went on holiday, and three times a year the owner would take him to a cooking school over a long weekend.  When the owner had died unexpectedly, he had been shocked to find out that the restaurant and a rather large investment portfolio had been left to him since there had been no other living family.

     Wanting to give back what had been so generously given to him, he had decided to begin a mentorship and investment business where he could give small local restaurants a fighting chance against larger chain restaurants.

     The train lurched suddenly, and the two of them found themselves back in the sunlight as the tunnel slipped behind them.

     Smiling, the man reached out his hand to shake hers.  "I don't think we've formally met.  I'm Nate."

     Blushing now, almost as red as the sun setting in the sky, Merribell took his hand.  "I'm Merribell.  I'm so pleased to meet you."

     As the train continued on its journey along the coast, the two of them continued talking.  Seagulls on the nearby shore chattered as if laughing at them and how fate, and God, had answered her prayers.

6 comments:

  1. Lovely. As always. And how nice to think that the tides might be turning for the lovely Merribel with happiness flowing her way.

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  2. Looks like love and new opportunities have come Merribell's way at last. Have thoroughly enjoyed her tale over the past few weeks

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    1. thank you! it has been a nice change from the paranormal or mysterious tales!

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  3. Sometimes all it takes is a chance meeting to make everything change.

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