Train Scares


At the station I tried calling my friend, but there was no answer. My bag was heavy, I was tired, I was alone, I tried to look nonchalant. As I turned away from the phone a young man started to talk to me. He was Arabic. He was a student. He was very sympathetic. I could come and sleep on his floor.
I try to assure him that I am fine, but he stays with me as I call again. He offers to carry my bag, I say it's OK. Then another man attaches himself to us. He is older, also Arabic. Both hang by me as the time ticks on and I return again and again to the phone box and get no answer. Now it is 10:00p.m. I am panicking as I trail around the station with these two men. I feel battened on and can't defend myself in words, because although I can understand every thing they say, they are speaking French, when I try to reply, only Spanish comes out.
I am close to crying. I tell the men that I just want to be left alone. They tell each other to leave me alone. They start to argue in Arabic. I suddenly suspect they are not rivals for me, but in some weird way in league. The student offers his floor and again I refuse. The other man waves his arms dismissively at the student and says I can stay in the station, its perfectly safe, many travellers sleep here all night. I rush around carrying my luggage and they are constantly one on each side of me. I find a station employee, and while asking about hotels, am told I must hurry to get out of the station because it is closing in 20 minutes. I look angrily at the second man who shrugs, it closes, really? I thought not.
The station official directs me to a travelers aid office where I can make a hotel reservation. The students fades but the second man proudly ushers me into the office as if he had personally placed it there. He tells the clerk we need a room. "For how many?" says the clerk. "Un", I shout, "Une - pour moi, pour moi seulement." The clerk gives me a disdainful look.I clutch the address of the hotel and we go to the taxi rank. Suddenly many French people are in line behind me. A taxi arrives and my man rushes to pull open the door before the French people can get it. I fling in my bag and follow it inside.
My head swivels to the front of the cab in my horror and disbelief. Just when I thought I was safe, my companion is talking swiftly and in Arabic to the driver and is insinuating his body into the cab with me. As he stoops to enter, I barrel out both feet first thrusting him aside and dragging my bag after me. The French people look at me in disgust and push past in to the cab.
I look at the next driver. He is old, bulbous nosed, certainly French and I fling myself into his cab as my Arab friend melts back into the station chaos.I stammer out a few words of greeting and explanation and again the words tumble out of my face in Spanish. Then my sweet cab driver answers me back in Spanish. I am safe, totally safe. He is Spanish, has lived and worked here for years. The world regains its normal proportions. I can speak again.
Other memories jogged by this photo. Further memories. More memories. This Photo. All the Photos

Alternate Navigation Strategies

Pictures in Chronological Order

Map/Diagram of Story Elements