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To Hear Her Voice In The Silence

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Emma Swan was about to head out on the journey of a lifetime. At least that was how it felt like. The excitement was bubbling in her stomach as she held on more tightly to her bag. For three days, she was gonna kick back, relax and enjoy the stunning view from a train window. She still couldn’t quite believe it that she had actually won this trip simply by participating in a competition in the paper. It was almost too good to be true.

And yet here she was. About to get on this train. Three days of journey. 2,775 miles Three days with no Wi-fi, no work, no worries. The trip started right here in Toronto and ended in Vancouver. Emma had no idea what was gonna happen when she made it to Vancouver, but that wasn’t so surprising. Emma rarely had any idea what was gonna happen. There had been a point where she thought she would have her shit together by now, but here she was, twenty seven years old and without a clue what she was doing. Maybe she should be concerned about it, but she was so used to it by now. She had learned herself to be breezy about it. Take things in strides.

And now she was ready to hop aboard and let herself be transported. Boy, she was looking forward to it. Having recently been fired from her job, this trip couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.

Maybe she would settle down in Vancouver. Maybe she would try and get a job and make a life for herself there. It could only be better than the one she’d had here. Her apartment had been crappy, and so had her job. Yeah, she was more than ready for this. And the more distance there was between herself and Lily, her ex-girlfriend, the happier Emma would be. What she needed right now was new horizons. A new perspective. A fresh start somewhere else. If that was even a thing. Right now, Emma chose to believe that it was.

She patiently waited in line behind the other passengers and adjusted her backpack just a little. She prided herself in travelling light. She didn’t need anything else than what was in her backpack. A bit of clothing, a couple of pictures and her laptop and phone. That was it. Maybe it wasn’t a lot of possessions for a twenty seven year old, but to Emma, it was exactly enough.

The blonde shoved her hands into the pockets of her red leather jacket as she waited to board the train. It was cold today. Emma couldn’t wait to get indoors. She had sort of dreaded the three days without any Wi-Fi, but she had decided to just suck it up. If there weren’t any Wi-Fi, there wouldn’t be any excuses not to write. And write was exactly what Emma planned on doing during this trip.

Finally, it was her turn to step onto the train, and the uniform clad assistant who helped people “aboard” smiled at her and said: “have a nice trip, miss.”

“Thanks,” Emma smiled. She was sure that this was gonna be a good trip. She could feel it. Three days where she would watch Canada’s beautiful nature drift by her window. Hopefully, the change of scenery would inspire her to write. For once, Emma felt sort of excited about the future. For some reason, she firmly believed that everything she wanted and dreamed of was in Vancouver. And if it wasn’t, well... Then maybe it was time to take off on a trip that was longer than three days. The world was her oyster. Maybe she would go to Florida. Tallahassee. She had always wanted to go there. Or Malibu. Spend the rest of her life soaking up the sun on some beach. Or maybe she would do something entirely different and head off to Paris and blend in with the many struggling artists there. She could imagine herself sitting with her laptop on one of those pavement cafés. She could do that, couldn’t she? Who knew what the future would bring? Maybe imagining herself on a pavement café in Paris wasn’t as crazy as it sounded.

As Emma pushed past the many people to find her seat, she could feel her cellphone vibrate in her pocket, and she was willing to bet all her money it was Mary Margaret calling her. Emma had no plans of calling her back. She and her foster mother weren’t seeing eye to eye, and they haven’t for a while. Mary Margaret Blanchard-Nolan had been extremely controlling to live with. She had adopted Emma when Emma was six years old, and at first Emma had adored her “new mummy”, but her warm feelings had quickly soured. Mary Margaret had turned out to be an incredibly strict mother. And the situation had only worsened when Emma became a teenager. Mary Margaret had gone from “caring and over protecting” to downright controlling. She kept tabs on Emma all the time. Called her constantly and sometimes even “dropped by” during their lunch breaks in school just to “see if everything was okay”. It had driven Emma mad, and Mary Margaret’s husband David had simply shrugged and brushed it off when Emma tried to voice her dissatisfaction with the situation. The last straw had been when Emma finally had plucked up the courage and come out when she was seventeen years old. Mary Margaret had gone completely crazy. She had screeched like a mad banshee and refused to hear about it. No way her daughter was gay. That was not how she had raised Emma! David had once again backed up his wife and even asked Emma what they “had done wrong”.

That statement had been so ridiculous, Emma had actually ended up laughing in pure disbelief. And Mary Margaret? Well, she had slapped Emma. And then she had profusely apologized afterwards, but the damage had already been done. Emma had left her adoptive parents’ house that same night, and she had refused to come home. Obviously, Mary Margaret had started a search for her, but Emma had hid well, and when she turned eighteen three days later, there wasn’t much the police could do, really.

Emma had gotten a job, a place to live and for the first time in a long time she had felt her shoulders uncurled. Obviously, Mary Margaret hadn’t given up that easily. Every day, for an entire year, she had come to Emma’s apartment, trying to coax her into moving back home. Sometimes she had cried, and at other times she had yelled through the closed the door. And Emma had ignored her. She knew that both the tears and the yelling was an attempt to manipulate her, and if there was something Emma was done with, it was being manipulated.

After a year, Mary Margaret had given up, but the letters had kept coming for two more years. Then she had ceased that activity too. Or that was at least what Emma thought. Until she had received another letter three days ago, send to her new address in Toronto. Emma had no idea how Mary Margaret had found her address, but either way in the letter, Mary Margaret had told Emma that she and David had adopted a little boy called Neal, and did Emma really want her little brother to grow up without knowing his “big sister”?

That letter had made Emma feel sick. Another attempt at manipulation. God, Mary Margaret knew exactly how to play her and push her buttons! Her mental state had been bombed straight back to when she was seventeen and had just fled her home. She had almost called her old therapist, Archie, but then she had found out that she had won this train trip. Emma hadn’t hesitated to pack her bags and get the hell away.

Emma sighed as the phone continued to vibrate in her pocket. Like hell she was gonna call Mary Margaret back. She hadn’t told her adoptive mother about this trip either, the more distance between herself and Mary Margaret, the happier Emma would be.

“Excuse me,” she said as she weaseled past a couple who were blocking the hallway as they stood and gawped at their tickets. They clearly couldn’t find their seats.

Emma took mercy on them and pointed them to another uniformed train worker. He could probably help them. The couple smiled gratefully at her, and the woman said thank you with a very thick accent.

Emma returned their smile and then slipped past them so she could find her own seat.

It took a while, but finally Emma found her seat. She more or less tumbled over to the window seat and stuffed her backpack away under the seat before plopping down in the plushy seat. Man, people were pushing! Everyone were so impatient to getting seated. And she had almost stumbled over some kid on the way. Or, more specifically, over the suitcase the kid had dragged out directly in front of her. Obviously, the kids’ mother had immediately apologized, but it didn’t really change the fact that Emma had almost fallen face first. That would have been a real laugh for everyone watching.

Emma pushed her blonde hair away from her face and leaned back in her seat. She closed her eyes. She was willing to give it ten minutes, and if there still was as much noise, she would find her soundproof headphones. People were so goddamn loud. Emma just wanted some quiet. Oh well, at least there would be quiet later tonight when she moved to the sleeping area on the train. At least Emma hoped so. Oh god, what if she ended up sleeping next to some kid who screamed all night? That would be a freaking disaster. Emma imagined how she would lie sleepless three nights in a row.

Maybe she should have thought it through before embarking on this trip. Emma scoffed a little. This was so typical for her. She never thought about things before doing them. Maybe she would finally start to grow up when she reached Vancouver and Mary Margaret’s ensnaring bonds. Maybe she could finally get her shit together once and for all. She would find somewhere remote to settle down. A small town where she could finally get the quiet, she so desired.

Quiet was clearly something she wouldn’t get today.

Were all the kids present on this train ride dosed up with sugar or something? God, the noise was getting unbearable! Emma lost patience with her surroundings and ducked to find her bag. She thrusted one hand inside the bag and found her headphones. A groan of sheer relief escaped her as she slipped the headphones over her ears. Ahh. Much better. She could still faintly hear the children screaming and the adults talking, but the sounds were so muffled that it wasn’t a bother to her anymore. Finally peace and quiet.

Emma leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. Now she could allow herself to relax. In a moment the train would start moving, and she would be on her way away from Lily and Mary Margaret and whoever else was running away from. She had absolutely zero plans for the future, but that suited Emma fine. She would make it up as she went. This was gonna be good. A fresh start and all that.

Emma felt her phone vibrate in her pocket once more, and her gut instinct told her that it was Mary Margaret again. Emma didn’t bother to check her phone. She already knew that there would be a half-screechy message left on her voicemail. Yep, I think it’s time to change my number. Again, Emma thought to herself and made a mental note. She had done that regularly throughout the years when Mary Margaret’s insistence was pissing her off. This would be the thirteenth time she was gonna change her number. How Mary Margaret managed to sniff up her numbers was still an absolute mystery to Emma. Sometimes she suspected Mary Margaret for having hired a private detective to follow her around everywhere and report back to Mary Margaret. Emma certainly wouldn’t put it past her. The thing with Mary Margaret was strange. Everything about her radiated “sweet”. From her cutesy double name to her adorable cardigan-and-dress outfits. She looked like Snow White with her black hair that was cropped short, her dimpled cheeks and her soft, green eyes. Emma was certain that was what made Mary Margaret so creepy. Her cutesy appearance paired with the knowledge of her controlling, neurotic nature. To a stranger, Mary Margaret looked plain adorable, but Emma knew that there was nothing sweet about her adoptive mother. Mary Margaret was a fine example on how looks indeed could be deceiving. There really was no telling what lurked beneath the surface.

Emma stretched her legs and sighed contentedly. No more Mary Margaret, no more controlling, and pretty sure no more phone calls either. She felt... Well, she felt free. However ridiculous it sounded.

Emma could hear passing by her seat, but she didn’t bother to open her eyes. She was far too comfortable like this. She didn’t react when her phone buzzed in her pocket. This time it was clearly a text. It could be a text telling her that there was a new message on her voicemail, but it could also be her friend Ella texting her and wishing her a good trip like she had said she would. Emma didn’t bother checking that message either. She was too comfortable and too tired. She had been up early this morning to take a shift at the diner where she was working. She knew that Ingrid was expecting her to come back in three days, but Emma wasn’t so sure she would do that. It was very possible that she would stay in Vancouver. The blonde chuckled out loud as she imagined the look on Ingrid’s face when she found out that Emma had in fact skipped town. Oh, that would serve Ingrid well! She wasn’t a very nice boss.

Emma faintly heard the sound of children cheering, and then she felt the floor shake slightly. She smiled. The train was moving. Now she was actually on her way. This was gonna be awesome. Maybe she should find her laptop and begin to write already. For a moment, she foolishly considered to maybe send a few emails, but then she remembered that there wasn’t any Wi-Fi on this trip. No online interacting for three days. Emma both feared it and looked forward to it. She feared it because she, like so many others had a very active online life, and not being able to check her Tinder profile for three days was absolute madness. And she was looking forward to it because it had been a while since she last had had the opportunity to relax completely. Without Wi-Fi. It would just be her and her thoughts.

Scary, but also liberating in a way. Maybe she would even have a clear mind by the time this train ride was over. Emma hoped so.

Her mind had been a rather chaotic place ever since Lily had walked out on her. Emma was still reeling from the shock. She hadn’t seen it coming. At all. She thought that she and Lily were happy. Maybe even heading towards marriage, but Lily had quickly busted that idea when she ruthlessly announced to Emma that she had met someone else. Some chick named Elsa. Emma had damn nearly laughed. Elsa. What kind of name was that?
Apparently, it was the name of someone who found it appropriate to steal Emma’s girlfriend and then brainwash her completely. Lily had blabbered on about how she and Emma “hadn’t been happy for a while”. It was bullshit. Emma had been happy. She had been ecstatic. She had told Lily that, and Lily had cringed and then mumbled something about Emma being too “clingy”. Emma had categorically rejected that, but now she could sort of see what Lily meant. Yes, it was possible that Emma had been leaning a little too heavily on Lily in the past. Emma yearned for stability. And she had thought that Lily was that stability. But was it really so bad to yearn for stability? Wasn’t that what everybody searched after? Stability. Reassurance. Emma clenched her fist. It wasn’t fair of Lily to call her “clingy”. Not when she knew what Emma had been through.

Emma shook her head. She didn’t want to think of Lily anymore. From now on, she would only think of herself. Lily wasn’t worth her thoughts or her tears.

Sleepiness rushed over her like a wave. Emma yawned and considered whether it was appropriate or not to slip her boots off and curl up in the set. She knew that sleeping now probably was silly. After all, this trip was all about looking out of the window and see the breathtaking landscape. Emma chuckled. And here I am with my eyes closed. Oh well. She had three days of journey ahead of her. There would be plenty of time to admire the view tomorrow. The blonde yawned again. Man, she was really tired. Maybe she had overworked herself lately. She had definitely carried too many stacks of plates back and forward. She could feel it in her back every time she moved. If anything, she needed to see a masseuse. Emma chuckled. Maybe she could find one in Vancouver. Or wherever she ended up.

The muffled noises from the other passengers were becoming fainter and fainter, and Emma’s thoughts less and less coherent. She was falling asleep. Maybe she was already drifting in and out of sleep.

Her head lolled back, and she probably would have been completely out cold if it hadn’t been for that light tap on her shoulder.

Emma groaned in annoyance and didn’t even bother to open her eyes as she removed her headphones. I swear to god, if that’s some kid who has decided that it’s fun to irritate me, I’m gonna...

She didn’t allow herself to finish that train of thoughts. Instead she opened her eyes.

It wasn’t some kid. Definitely not. Emma’s mouth went a little dry.

It was a woman, and a rather beautiful one too. A brunette, olive skinned woman with plump lips painted a dark shade of red. Her hair was smooth and silky and brushing the top of her shoulders, and she had the darkest eyes Emma had ever seen. She was wearing a beige trench coat and had a red silk scarf tied loosely around her neck. Emma’s mind blue screened, and it took her a moment before she was able to ask: “Yeah?”

The beautiful brunette woman turned her phone screen towards Emma, and for a confused second, Emma thought that her phone had accidentally slipped out of her pocket, and that the brunette was giving it back to her. But coming out of her daze, Emma quickly realized that that wasn’t the case. The brunette was in fact showing her a message on her phone screen. Emma blinked, her contacts felt a bit wonky after she had had her eyes closed for so long, but after a moment, she was finally able to focus on the written words on the brunette’s phone screen. “Excuse me, but I think you’re in my seat,” the message said.

“I don’t think I am,” Emma said. She didn’t feel like moving an inch.

The brunette slipped her phone back into the pocket of her trench coat and then presented Emma with a ticket. Emma squinted once more as she looked at the ticket. ‘A1, window seat.’ Right. That was in fact the seat Emma had plopped down on a little earlier. Emma had to move.

“Right,” the blonde muttered as she forced herself to stand up. Her seat was across the brunette’s. They both had window seats, Emma had simply chosen the wrong one.

“Sorry,” Emma muttered as she grabbed her bag from underneath the seat and then moved both herself and the bag to the seat across A1.

The brunette offered a gracious smile as she sat down in the seat where Emma had been seconds ago.

Emma wasted no time in curling up in her seat. The right seat. A good thing I didn’t decide to take off my shoes. She watched as the elegant brunette woman stuffed her big suitcase away in the overhead bin and then sat down. She opened her purse and found a book which she immediately dived into.

It was impossible for Emma not to stare at the woman. She was...well, a knockout. And clearly travelling alone. Emma’s gaze dropped to the book nestled between the woman’s hands, and the blonde couldn’t help but chuckle. Murder on the Orient Express. Beautiful and clearly with a sense of humor.

The brunette looked up when Emma laughed, and she offered the blonde a little smile. A smile, Emma immediately returned. This was gonna be an interesting trip.

 

 

To Be Continued...???