fiction

Crying Train

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In the morning just after rush hour, Carmen and Emma boarded an Amtrak train headed south for New York.

Emma unwrapped her breakfast sandwich on the table.

“How can you eat?” asked Carmen.

Emma squeezed ketchup onto the wrapper and dipped the sandwich in before taking her first bite.

Carmen rose from her chair like a vapor and walked down the aisle toward the doors in the back.

She walked through three sets of doors before she found the bar car.

“Do you have Tito’s?” she asked the person behind the counter, a sad woman in her twenties.

“We don’t serve alcoholic beverages until after twelve,” she said.

“What time is it?” asked Carmen.

“Ten,” said the woman.

“So what do you serve, then? Coffee, I guess?”

“Sure,” said the woman. “Do you want that?”

“Give me your hand,” said Carmen.

The woman said, “Excuse me?”

“You have an interesting face,” said Carmen. “I’ll read your palm for free. I usually charge, you know.”

“No, thanks,” said the woman.

“I’ll have a coffee then,” said Carmen.

“What size?”

“Ugh…” said Carmen. She stared at the different sized coffee cups for a long time. Then she said, “Last night I saw God.”

The woman rolled her eyes and poured her a large coffee. “It’s on the house.”

“We’re on a train,” said Carmen. As the woman put the coffee on the counter, Carmen grabbed her wrist.

The woman frowned and her pupils dilated.

Carmen traced her palm gently and then let go of her hand.

“Thank you for the coffee. Do you live in New York?”

“Can’t you tell from my hand?” asked the woman.

“Clever,” said Carmen. “See you at noon.”

Carmen walked back to where Emma was finishing her sandwich.

Carmen said, “How can you eat?”

Emma said, “Why didn’t you bring me a coffee?”

“The bartender is a demon,” said Carmen.

“Are you still high?” asked Emma. “Tara should’ve known not to give you that shit. You stay high for days.”

Carmen laughed. “Baby, when I’m high, I stay high, for days.”

“Shut up,” said Emma. “I’m going to take a nap.”

“Not right after eating! You’ll get fat…well, fatter, that way.”

Emma knocked Carmen’s coffee over. It sprayed over the aisle and a little of it stained Carmen’s white sweatpants.

“Bitch,” said Carmen. She threw the empty cup in the seat across the aisle.

Emma stared out the window. “Where do you think Tara is?”

“Somewhere great,” said Carmen.

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