Surprise Train Ride

Surprise Train Ride
Cassandra Ulrich

Pulling out of the station to leave the bland colored building behind, my dad and I embarked on an unknown adventure to an undisclosed location. When we’d first arrived in a taxi, Dad bought the tickets and convinced me not to glance at the schedule board. Since I sat on the bench with Mozart blasting in my ears, I didn’t even hear the announcer blurt out the destination. Dad stood, and with back straight and head held high, he always seemed to stand taller than his 5’7” stature. Following Dad’s lead, I descended the stairs to the tracks and slipped into the train, backpack in hand. I always felt safe whenever he led the way, keeping a careful eye on the passengers. No one dared mess with his baby girl. We plopped into the first spare seats we found. I stared out the window and waited for the train to start on its way.

In minutes, combinations of reds, greens, oranges, yellows, and plums caught my attention with their vibrancy. I couldn’t pull away, not even when my dad tapped me on the shoulder. Still glued to the landscape flitting by, I removed my ear buds to listen to whatever he thought so important that he dared interrupt my euphoric experience. He chuckled softly. He understood what I saw, what I felt as I gazed on the beauty outside our window. He’d spent years during my childhood teaching me about leaves and ants and bees. I hoped he knew how special those times were to me.

Chestnut horses frolicked in the distance across browning tufts of grass. One of them stopped near the fence to exchange friendly greetings with a black sheep who’d strayed from his flock. Neither paid attention to the hawk that glided over some evergreens, but my eyes followed that magnificent bird.

“Want some libation?” asked my father. Only a bartender from the 70s would dare use the word “libation.”

“Sure.” I didn’t look away from the window, not wanting to miss anything at this fast speed. “Dad, where are we going?” I couldn’t imagine any place more beautiful than what I witnessed before me.

He grinned. “Does it matter?”

More red leaves and some yellow bushes sped by. “No, the journey is what matters now. Thanks for this.”

“You’re welcome,” he replied and fell quiet so I could enjoy the scene. He knew it wouldn’t be long before I’d be forced to continue this journey of life without him.

Yeah, it’s the journey that counts, with its adventurous beauty.

Special Note: This story was written in memory of my father. Although the story is fiction, it reveals a bit of his essence.