A woman rides Amtrak, looking out the window. She’s French, but so dark people always ask her, “What are you?” and don’t believe her when she says, “French.” Her head is on the scratched glass, staring out the window, looking at the rows of corn. She likes how the pattern lets you see clearly down each passing center row, giving a sort of stop-motion animation in Nebraskan agriculture.
“Where you headed, young lady?” a gruff man asks. He’s huge and his shirt is Harley Davidson with pictures of metal and bone.
She gives a wounded smile. “Back home.” She looks back out the window.
The man looks like he’s considering his next chess move. “Is home far?”
She chuckles. “Everything is far on these damn trains.”
The man laughs without taking his eye off of her. “Yeah,” he says.
She immediately forgets he is there. She goes back to the corn. Back to the expression that let the man know something was wrong. When he gets up to leave, she doesn’t even notice.
A little later, he returns. He sits in the booth across from her and lays playing cards on the table between them.
“Excuse me?” she says, jolted from a thought.
“I got cards for us to play from the kiosk,” he says, tearing at a corner of the shrink wrap.
“Sorry, but I don’t want-”
“Do you know hearts?” the man asks.
She sighs, takes another glance out the window, and says, “Sure.”
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com on January 4, 2020.