I awoke to find myself on a train. My head was pounding and my left hand was in a cast. I looked out the window, but it was dark and the lights inside the train were dim. I checked myself over, I had bruises on my other arm, and my right cheek was tender. My cast had a phone number written on it; 913-555-3283. The last thing I remembered was wearing a slinky, black dress and waiting at the table for my mystery date to show up. As I patted myself down, I realized I was wearing sweats and a denim jacket. I looked for my purse; I hate carrying one. I always leave it behind somewhere. “Damn,” I whispered. I couldn’t find it.
I looked around the rest of the car and saw only one other passenger towards the back. The dim lights of the train car bounced off his bald head and made his glasses glow. I got up and walked to the back of the car towards the bathroom and glanced at the man on my way there. He only stared forward, hands folded in his lap. There was no hair anywhere on his head. He had no eyebrows, no scruff on his face, nothing. His skin was wrinkled and old. I still couldn’t see his eyes behind the reflection and I didn’t want to stare, so I hurried to the bathroom.
I washed the makeup from my face and looked at the disaster in the mirror. My cheek was swollen and various shades of purple and green. My hair had been cut into a jagged, dark brown mess. I combed it down as best as I could with my fingers.
I sat down on the toilet with my head in my hands. I couldn’t figure out what happened. A warped memory of the waiter refilling my water and a voice saying, “I see you’ve made it.” I remember turning to face him, but my brain won’t let me see his face.
I stood up and left the bathroom. I straightened myself up as much as any battered person can wearing sweats and a denim jacket could and made my way back to my seat. I stopped next to the bald man, “Excuse me, sir. Do you know where the train is heading? I can’t find my ticket.”
He simply stared ahead. I still couldn’t see his eyes. “Sir?” I touched his shoulder. His head slowly turned towards me. I could only see my bruised face staring back from the lenses.
“I see you’ve made it.” Those glasses were entirely too familiar.
“It looks like I’m still getting there,” I laughed uncomfortably, “I’m worried I might have overslept and missed my stop,” I lied. The man’s face spread into a smile; the glare from his teeth rivaled his glasses. I couldn’t keep myself from staring and words stuck in my throat.
“No,” he said, “you have certainly made it.”
The train bellowed and the car went black.