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Night Train to Trondheim

Amy Stonestrom

     My seat companion had a crew cut, a clean shaven face made for glossy pages and a cat in a carrier. He wore Norwegian military fatigues. I wore a long skirt and chunky-heeled canvas boots, a pair I bought in Sweden, where my friends and I had just finished a semester abroad. I didn’t know his name and it didn’t matter because in eight hours I would never see him again—but already I wanted to.

     My friend Laurie twisted to make eye contact from the front of the crowded train car. She threw me a glare as she pointed to the hunched traveler seated next to her after nodding toward my attractive seat mate. I shrugged, smiled apologetically and mouthed the words, “Where’s Kevin?” Laurie shook her head and shrugged back. This was the pre-text era so we could only hope the third traveler in our party was in another compartment and wasn’t standing alone on the platform as Laurie and I pulled away from the Oslo station. There was no way I was going to give up my seat to try and find him now. 

     Fatigues introduced me to his calico and offered me the window so I could see the “white night” as locals call it—the midnight sun. How do Norway’s fields, streams and red-roofed farm houses look as long beams of light lie down in the tall grass and fold into the shadows of twilight? I have no idea. I barely glanced out the window.

     Instead, I met his eyes every so often and tilted my head toward him as he told me about his hopes for the future and he asked me about mine. It occurred to me at some point, from something vague he said about the calico, that the cat might belong to a girlfriend. It also occurred to me at some point that I had a boyfriend back in The States. I never mentioned him either.

     Finally, well past midnight, our car went dark. We kept our faces close and whispered our stories until our eyelids could no longer hold. When the sun and I both woke from our brief respite, I realized my head found its place on his shoulder. I could smell earth and soap on his neck and felt his head lean gently against mine.

     How do you ask the sun to stop pouring out the hours? And how do you ask today if it

could please come back tomorrow?

     I would still like to know.

Amy Stonestrom's essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Times, Brevity, Superstition Review, Defunkt, Storm Cellar Quarterly and elsewhere. She has received awards from The Tucson Festival of Books, Streetlight Magazine and the National League of American Pen Women. She holds an MFA from Bay Path University
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