Lots of passengers seemed to get off the train in Winnipeg. And especially the families with children. Emma could easily imagine that the kids would be tired of sitting down for so long. There wasn’t much opportunity to run around in the train. The hallway wasn’t exactly appropriate for running around.
But Emma felt entirely too lazy to even consider to get off the train. She was too stuffed with delicious food, and she was far too comfortable in her plushy seat.
And there was another reason too. The brunette sitting across her, Regina, remained seated. She didn’t look like she had any intention of getting out of the train and explore Winnipeg. And Emma had lost all interest in exploring the beautiful landscape. She was far more interested in talking- no communicating with Regina. Emma felt ridiculously drawn to the brunette, and she couldn’t quite explain why.
But it was more than just the color of Regina’s hair that made her interesting to Emma. There was just... something about her.
Emma leaned back in her seat, secretly thrilled that she wasn’t getting off the train yet. The journey was far from over, and Emma couldn’t have been more pleased about it. She had food in her belly, a good amount of money in her bag, and she was sitting across a beautiful and intriguing woman. What could possibly be better than this? Emma flashed Regina a little smile, and she felt every bit delighted when her smile was returned. Emma’s heart started thumping faster in her chest, and she caught herself wishing that Regina would smile all the time. Surely the world would be a much better place if she did.
As their train wagon emptied rapidly, Emma reached within her bag and found her laptop. She quickly hooked it up with the charger and then switched it on. This was the perfect opportunity to write a bit.
Once the laptop was ready, she roamed within her bag once more and found her little memory stick. She always brought that memory stick no matter where she went. That memory stick was her heart. Okay, maybe that was exaggerating, but her story was on this memory stick, and the idea of leaving the memory stick at home always send surges of panic through Emma.
But panic wasn’t necessary right now. She had her memory stick, and she had her laptop. Everything was fine. She plugged the memory stick into the laptop, and her story immediately appeared on the laptop screen. All two hundredth and fifteen pages. That’s how much she had written so far. Emma felt ridiculously proud of herself. This was more than just words or a silly hobby. This was her passion. What she wanted to do with her life, and Emma had decided long ago that she would never let anyone badmouth her writing again. Not even Mary Margaret.
Emma stretched her fingers slightly and then began to tap away on they keyboard. She was already halfway through the twisted story about Hansel and Gretel, and she was looking forward to finishing the story and start with the next one. Because that was exactly what Emma did. She wrote “modern” fairy tales. Twisted editions of all the classic fairy tales. She had started with her favorite. “The Ugly Duckling”. In her story, the ugly duckling was a little girl struggling to fit in the world. The words had come easy to Emma. Of course the story had been inspired by herself, and it had almost been a therapeutic experience for her. Once she was finished with Hansel and Gretel, she would continue onwards with “Snow White”, but Emma wasn’t so sure she would be writing it from Snow White’s point of view. Why not try and write it from the “villains”? Why not try and come up with some sort of backstory for the Evil Queen. Emma didn’t fully buy into the whole thing with the queen simply being a terribly, wicked character full of jealousy and anger. There had to be more to the story, and Emma couldn’t wait to get started. She already had a few ideas. And some of them were quite good.
But today she struggled with writing on her fairy tale project. Her fingers were itching to write something new. Something about... train rides.
Emma glanced discreetly at the brunette sitting across her. Maybe I could write something about two strangers meeting on a train. Not very original, but maybe I could give it a shot anyway. Emma licked her lips slightly. Should she feel bad about wanting to write about the beautiful, intriguing brunette sitting across her?
Maybe. But at the same time Emma couldn’t quite quell the itching feeling in her fingers. Wait a second, maybe I could somehow incorporate her into my fairytales. Yes. That’s an awesome idea! She can be the beauty, and I can be the beast.
Emma chuckled. That was silly.
Regina’s head snapped up and she raised an eyebrow questioningly.
“Sorry,” Emma said sheepishly. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”
Regina shrugged but smiled at the same time.
“I’m not disturbing you?” Emma guessed.
Regina shook her head, still smiling.
“Good,” Emma said and returned the smile. Then she glanced at the book in the brunette’s lap. “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. Emma smiled a little. Good choice. Very posh.
“You’re into classics?” Emma asked and nodded towards the book in Regina’s lap.
Regina nodded eagerly and found her phone in her pocket. She tapped for a moment and then turned the phone screen towards Emma.
Emma was quick to lean forward and read the message: ‘yes, I’ve always enjoyed classics.’
“Me, too,” Emma smiled. “Do you have a favorite?”
More tapping on the phone, and then Regina turned the screen towards Emma again.
Emma smiled as she read the answer. ‘I think my favorite has to be “Jane Eyre.’
“That’s a good one,” the blonde said and nodded. “It’s a very powerful story.”
Regina nodded, and then she tapped something on her phone again. After a moment or so, she turned the screen towards Emma. The blonde was quick to read this message too. ‘But I think I’m bothering
“You’re not,” Emma said quickly. “In fact...” she quickly reached within her bag and found a solid stack of sticky notes and two pencils.
Regina tilted her head slightly.
“I thought that maybe this could make it a bit easier,” Emma said and felt how she flushed ridiculously. “Y’ know... Instead of you having to type on your phone all the time.”
Regina flashed her a beaming smile and nodded.
Emma returned the smile and pushed some of the sticky notes and pencil towards Regina, and Regina quickly grabbed the pencil and began to scribble something down. After a moment she pushed the
sticky note towards Emma. ‘That was very kind of you, and you’re right, it does makes things a bit easier. But I don’t want to bother you.’
“You’re not,” Emma said firmly. “Seriously, you’re not. I enjoy talk-“ stop right there, Swan! Don’t put your foot in your mouth!
But Regina simply smiled and scribbled something down on the sticky note. Emma almost chuckled when she saw the message: ‘....communicating with me?’
“Yeah,” Emma nodded somewhat red faced. “Exactly.”
The brunette’s shoulder shook slightly in a way that would indicate a chuckle.
Emma resumed tapping away on the keyboard, but she honestly couldn’t concentrate. For the first time in a long while, she didn’t want to write. She wanted to keep communicating with Regina. That was
far more interesting than her fictional world, and that really said a lot.
Emma glanced discreetly at her. Regina was reading her book once more, and for a moment Emma wished that she had been good at sketching, because damn, Regina would make for a beautiful motive!
She made Emma’s mouth go shockingly dry, and it felt as though her stomach was full of butterflies or tingles or whatever, and Emma silently cursed herself for getting too affected. It was silly to feel that way about a stranger, and it was definitely ridiculous to wish that this train journey lasted several weeks and not just two more days. Emma definitely wanted more time with the beautiful brunette, and she felt slightly annoyed at herself. Why was she sitting here and writing when she could be communicating more with Regina? Why was she wasting the time?
But writing was a lost cause today. “Are you from Toronto?” she blurted out.
Regina looked up from her book, and Emma instantly felt a bit embarrassed for having interrupted her reading time.
But Regina didn’t look one bit bothered as she scribbled something down on the sticky note, and then showed it to Emma.
“Oh okay,” Emma said as she read the message. ‘No, actually, I’m from Montreal.’
The blonde carefully saved her documents and then turned her attention towards Regina again. “Have you ever been to Vancouver before then?”
Regina nodded and scribbled on the sticky note.
Emma willingly read the message. ‘Yes, many times.’
“Nice,” Emma said. “Any chance you can recommend me a cheap hotel or inn then?”
Regina raised an eyebrow, and Emma blushed a bit as she admitted: “yeah, I was sort of... in a hurry to get out of the door, and I didn’t really research before I left.”
Regina nodded slightly and grabbed a new sticky note. Emma heard the pencil scratch against the paper, and then a new message was slid across the table. ‘Do you have any preferences?’
“Hmm,” Emma considered it for a moment. “I’ve sort been through a pretty tough time, and I’m not in the mood for lots of people, so somewhere quie-“ damnit. Emma blushed again as she halfheartedly
finished the sentence. “Somewhere quiet and peaceful.”
Regina didn’t appear to be one bit bothered by Emma’s choice of words as she scribbled down another message. Emma was impressed at how neat the brunette’s handwriting was even though she was
‘Well, if you’re looking for a peaceful place to stay, I can recommend Eugenia’s Diner in Steveston.’
Emma raised an eyebrow. “Steveston? Where’s that exactly?”
Scribble-scribble, scratch-scratch against the paper, and then Emma was presented with another sticky note: ‘It’s a small town just 12, 2 miles away from Vancouver. It only takes a little over a half an
hour to get there. It’s this little fisher village. I rather think you’d like it there.’
“Steveston,” Emma said and smiled. “I’ll remember that.” The blonde had barely gotten the chance to look up before she was presented with another message: ‘If you’d like, I could give you Eugenia’s
number and you could call her in advantage? I don’t think there’ll any problems regarding showing up and booking a room, but she likes it better when people call in advantage.’
“That would be awesome!” Emma said earnestly. “Seriously, you would literally save my life!”
Regina smiled a little as she slid another note towards Emma. A note with a phone number, and the text: ‘she answers the phone between 09:00 and 13:00.’
“Thank you,” Emma said and flashed the brunette a beaming smile. “Thank you so much! I’ll call her first thing tomorrow and book a room.”
Regina returned the smile.
“So, are you going on vacation in Vancouver?” Emma asked before she could stop herself, not even considering the possibility that Regina might want to read her book.
Regina shook her head in response.
“You’re gonna live there?” Emma guessed.
Regina nodded, and now her expression had changed. She looked a bit... guarded. There was clearly more to it than just that, but Emma quickly decided not to push the subject.
“Well, I’m just running away from all the people in Toronto,” Emma said. “Place’s too crowded for me.”
Regina raised an eyebrow.
“I’m looking forward to seeing that little fisher community,” Emma continued and patted her pocket in which she had the sticky note with the number to Eugenia’s Inn.”
Regina smiled again and nodded slightly.
“Do you come to Steveston often?” Emma asked, and yeah, now she was definitely sounding too hopeful.
Regina looked as though she would have chuckled if she could. She grabbed the stack of sticky notes and the pencil and then scribbled for a second. Then she handed Emma the message.
Emma smiled as she read the message: ‘yes, I do sometimes. I’ve known Eugenia for a while, and she would probably be disappointed if I didn’t stop by sometimes.’
“Great,” Emma said and chuckled. “Then maybe I could buy you a cup of coffee sometimes? To say thank you for giving me Eugenia’s number.”
Regina nodded and quickly scribbled another message. Emma felt positively giddy when she read the message. ‘Coffee sounds nice.’
Emma flashed the brunette another smile and then said: “I’m sorry. You must think I’m talking way too much.”
But Regina shook her head firmly and another sticky note was slid across the table. ‘No, I don’t. I find it very nice. It’s been a while since I’ve had anyone to communicate with, and I can’t exactly talk to myself.’
Emma’s jaw fell open and she quickly looked up. Is she joking or what?
Regina clearly was. She grinned at Emma. The sight made Emma laugh and shake her head slightly.
“Right then,” the blonde said. “I’m glad I’m not bothering you.”
Another sticky note. ‘You’re not bothering me, Emma. Not at all.’
Emma felt a big, dopey grin appear on her face at that, and she knew she probably looked ridiculous, sitting there and grinning like an idiot, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. Not when Regina was returning her smile and sending surges of warmth through Emma’s body.
When it became lunch time, Emma felt tempted to stay in her seat. Because Regina did the same thing. But Emma ignored her silly needs and left her seat to brave the dining area. She hadn’t gotten off the train in Winnipeg, and she had a feeling that stretching her legs would be good for her. And she also had a hunch that Regina wanted to eat in peace. Emma thought back to their first evening on the train.
She could easily remember how Regina’s face had contorted in pain and how she had taken a pill. The blonde had a hunch that eating wasn’t very nice for the brunette, and Emma didn’t want to sit and stare Regina down while she ate.
But Emma definitely felt a little lost as she sat in the dining area and ate her lunch alone. Sitting all alone made her think about what was gonna happen when she got to Steveston. She wouldn’t know anyone there. She would be all alone there too. Emma knew she was a strange creature. She liked being on her own, but she feared being alone. She decided right then and there that she would text Ella and convince/force her to come and visit. And hopefully for a long time.
Emma took a breath and took another bite of her sandwich. It’ll be fine. I’ll meet new people soon enough, and Steveston sounds like the perfect place. And if Regina really wants to come and have coffee with me.... Emma allowed herself to dream for a moment. She dared to imagine how the friendship between her and Regina would grow and eventually evolve into something more. Emma couldn’t bear the thought of Regina just disappearing out of her life once the train arrived in Vancouver. That would be a disaster. Impossible. Unthinkable. She’s so interesting. I have to know more about her. Maybe I can even get her phone number. Sticky notes are great, but not for long term contact. And long term contact was exactly what Emma wanted.
When Emma came back to her seat, she arrived just in time to see Regina slip a bottle of pills back into her purse. Emma frowned slightly. Had Regina been having those strange throat pains again?
Emma’s heart sank a bit. She didn’t like the brunette being in pain.
But Regina looked quite unbothered by it, and she smiled at Emma when she sat down.
“Well, the dining area was full of screaming kids. Again,” Emma said as she crossed her legs.
Regina looked rather amused, and it didn’t take long before another sticky note was slid across the table: ‘no kidding?’
Emma laughed. “Yeah, you know what I think?”
Regina shook her head and raised an eyebrow.
“I think we’re part of an experiment,” Emma said and lowered her voice conspiratorially. “I think every kid on board on this train has been dosed up on sugar, and the producers are watching and waiting
for someone to finally snap.”
Regina’s smile widened at that and she gave Emma another note. ‘That’s an interesting theory, miss Swan. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was true.’
Emma smiled. And for several reasons. Miss Swan. Nobody ever calls me that. But it was absolutely refreshing from Mary Margaret’s “Emma Blanchard-Nolan”-crap.
Speaking of Mary Margaret... Emma hadn’t heard from her at all for a few hours now. That was actually pretty fucking impressive. When she was at her worst, Mary Margaret called Emma consistently throughout the day. There had been this one time where she had called Emma a total of forty times. Forty. Emma had switched her phone off that night, and she had been completely exhausted. And paranoid. That had been the first time Emma had considered taking the whole thing to court and get a restraining order. But she had only thought about it for a moment before shaking her head and abandoning the idea. She was pessimistic enough to believe that Mary Margaret’s defense would be so much better than her own. Emma knew Mary Margaret, and she knew that her adoptive mother probably would fabricate a string of lies about Emma’s mental health. She had done that before, and Emma couldn’t see why she wouldn’t do it again. David would side with his wife, the court would side with David and Mary Margaret, and Emma would be screwed. Maybe Mary Margaret would even manage to convince the that the best thing would be to declare Emma incapable of managing her affairs. Mary Margaret had threatened with that once before, when Emma turned eighteen. Emma had been horrified, and that was the first time she had thought to herself that in order to be free of Mary Margaret, she would have to leave Toronto at some point.
Emma looked out at the mountains. That was exactly what she was doing right now.
The landscape truly was stunning. Emma had dreaded that she would be bored without her precious Wi-Fi, but that wasn’t the case at all. The view more than made up for the lack of Wi-Fi, and Emma had other things to entertain her too. She had her writing, and once she tired of that, she asked Regina if she could maybe borrow a book. Regina had smiled and nodded, and to Emma’s utmost surprise, the brunette had opened her big purse and revealed that she had a smaller library in there. There were a few romantic novels, but most of them were classics.
Emma had ended up choosing “A Study in Scarlet”. It had been a good while since she had read anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and it was no secret that Emma loved a good detective story. That was the only good thing about having lived with the Blanchard-Nolan’s. David had been the one who had introduced Emma to the classics. Those had been some pretty good moments. Unfortunately there had been too few of them. David had immediately changed character when Mary Margaret was near. As a child, Emma hadn’t understood why, but now she knew that David had in fact been scared of Mary Margaret. That had to be the only explanation. Either that, or he had been so thoroughly manipulated by his wife.
Emma stretched her legs lazily as she turned another page in the book. She was already pretty deep in the story. Maybe she would have to bring the book with her into the dining area. If Regina let her, obviously. Emma had every intention of asking her first of course. She wasn’t planning on kidnapping Regina’s book or anything. Her stomach growled, and Emma chuckled slightly. It was lucky that it soon was dinner time. Mmm, I hope there’s chicken for dinner tonight. Or maybe even roast beef. And mashed potatoes. Emma licked her lips. Steak would be good too. Or maybe just good old fashioned macaroni and cheese. The blonde licked her lips again. As per usual, Emma was hungry. She wondered if Regina was too. The blonde looked up from the book to ask Regina, but the question died on her lips when she saw Regina. The brunette had fallen asleep. Emma couldn’t blame her. The lights were getting kind of dimmed, and the sky was darkening rapidly. And when you didn’t have much else to do besides looking out the window, falling asleep seemed like a very reasonable thing to do.
Emma couldn’t help but smiling at what she saw. Regina was a very beautiful sleeper. Her head was resting on her shoulder, and her lips were parted slightly. Stunning. She’s absolutely stunning. Emma knew that there was extra blankets stuffed under the seats, and now she felt tempted to grab one of them and drape it over Regina. She didn’t want the brunette to be cold. Emma was just debating whether putting a blanket over the sleeping brunette would be a creepy thing to do or not, when she saw something that made her pause for a moment.
Regina was still peacefully asleep, but because of the way her head was positioned, her silk scarf had slipped some, and now the very top of her neck was ever so slightly exposed. Emma frowned slightly. She could see something peak out underneath the scarf. Something white. Regina’s hair was partially in the way, so it was impossible to determine what that white something was, but Emma was sure that the silk scarf around Regina’s neck wasn’t just a fashion statement. Emma felt how her stomach tightened slightly in concern, and once again she had to remind herself that Regina essentially was a stranger. Emma had no right to ask her questions about this and that.
The blonde forced herself to tear her gaze away from Regina’s partially exposed neck, and then she roamed underneath the seat once more to find that blanket.
But before she could get the chance to find the blanket, a couple of kids noisily ran past their seats, and the commotion was enough to rouse Regina from her sleep.
Emma hastily lowered her gaze to the book in her lap once more. She didn’t want to be caught staring at Regina, and she made sure to feign annoyance as she shook her head and said: “damn kids.”
Regina nodded, and out of the corner of her eye, Emma saw the brunette straighten her posture. She sat up in her seat, ran a couple of fingers through her hair, and then she adjusted the scarf around her neck. Emma could see how the brunette’s fingers trembled slightly, and a million questions were burning on the blonde’s tongue.
And she couldn’t ask a single one of them. Because it wasn’t her business. It wasn’t her business asking questions about Regina’s throat and what was hiding underneath her scarves. But more than anything, Emma wished that it was her business.
She glanced up from the book and flashed Regina a teeny tiny smile.
Regina immediately returned the smile, but Emma could see that the brunette’s smile wasn’t completely genuine. There was something in Regina’s eyes. Something Emma couldn’t quite read.
“I’m starving, aren’t you?” Emma asked in an attempt to diffuse the tension.
Regina nodded, three fervent nods. She clearly was. Very hungry.
“Do you want to sit together in the dining room?” Emma asked hopeful. “Sitting alone is just so... Lonely.”
Regina appeared to hesitate. She pursed her lips slightly for a second and frowned. But then she nodded. Slowly, this time.
“Great,” Emma said and flashed Regina another smile. A slightly sadder one. Is this about the pills you’re taking when you’re eating? Are you uncomfortable doing it in front of me? God, I wish you
wouldn’t be. You shouldn’t be. I really, really don’t mind.
Obviously, Emma didn’t say any of this. Instead she said: “I hope there’s chicken for dinner. Do you like chicken too?”
Regina nodded again. This time with genuine vigor. She even smiled a little.
Emma felt how her own smile grew less tight. It was a good thing that she was an expert in using funny remarks as a way to diffuse the tension. And if it meant that Regina would keep smiling, Emma
would happily crack jokes all the way to Vancouver. In fact she would have absolutely no problems with doing that. Anything to see her smiling again. Anything to make sure that she’s having a nice
To Be Continued.......