Night Crossing A story by Alexander Wainwright, landscape painter.
#Novels #shortstories #painting #synchronicity
Have you ever misjudged someone so utterly and completely that you question your own sanity and senses? You write someone off as a hostile curmudgeon when he or she is actually only painfully shy and in need of a kind word? I certainly have! My story [confession] about Miss Trump starts here. The entire story is found in Night Crossing, the third in The Trilogy of Remembrance.
I was taking the train from London to Portsmouth planning to catch the ferry to Caen in the north of France. Why? I had been presented with an enormous puzzle and I simply had to find an answer. How? I was convinced that if I located a certain person, Henri, described as the Parisian pianist, the answer would be found. And so I took my seat on the train. You are about to meet an elderly woman, Miss Maureen Trump. You’ll find these passages below from:
Chapter 7, Night Crossing, the third in The Trilogy of Remembrance.
At the far end of the platform, coming out of the darkness, was an elderly woman dressed in black. With great care, she carried a paper teacup which made it hard to manoeuvre her bag behind her. Although she called out, the guard did not seem to notice her and so he began closing the door. Getting up from his seat, Alex waved at the man and pointed down the platform at the woman. In her struggles, she nearly lost her balance, but held the cup upright with as much concentration as a devoted alchemist carrying the elixir of life.
Alex caught his breath.
From somewhere in the upper reaches of the train station, a dozen huge, black crows descended upon the platform. Surrounding the old woman, they flapped noisily and marched about as if providing a convoy. The woman tried to shoo them away, but they only jumped a foot or so away and continued to follow her until she boarded the train. While the guard helped her with her bag, the crows stood themselves in a straight line along the platform and stared up at her. She boarded the train. Making her way slowly through several carriages at last she arrived where Alex was seated.
His first impression was that she was ever so slightly unkempt. A hem hung down and a coat button was loose. Under her arm, she clutched a ragged, rolled up newspaper leading him to speculate that she was a reader of the more sensational tabloids. He opened his own newspaper and tried to concentrate.
I was not in a mood for conversation. Perhaps I was just tired and didn’t want the challenge of what I assumed would be a dull conversation. [Say it Alex! You thought she was semi-literate and likely too stupid to bother with.] She began telling me about her sister and brother in law who had just recently died from “the cancer.” I did my best to politely ignore her. But if I had known what would happen on our night crossing, I certainly would not have been so dismissive. I did my best to hide behind my paper but there was something in her tone that caught me when she said,
“Tomorrow I’m taking the train right into Paris.” She gave him a charming smile marred only by one chipped tooth. “I’ve been thinking about this trip for a long time. You see, I want to look up a very old friend who I haven’t seen in ages.” The focus of her eyes shifted suggesting she had retreated to her interior world of memory. She spoke as if only to herself. “I regret not keeping in touch with him and often wonder what our lives would have been like if we had.” She sighed deeply. “He was the first and last person I ever loved.”
Although Alex still resented her intrusion, he was caught by the wistfulness in her tone about a love strong enough to span the decades even though they never saw each other. He was surprised to hear himself say, “So many choices in life. One can never be sure of their importance.”
“Are you an artist, Mr.Wainwright?”
“Yes, but how did you know?”
She sighed and looked heavenward saying, “I just love art!”
Alex steeled himself against uninformed people whose remarks betrayed their ignorance of art.
“Do you ever wonder, Mr. Wainwright, what’s in those empty spaces?”
“You know…in a painting, you think there’s nothing but air between a horse in a meadow and the barn or house, but is that really true? Is it really empty?”
Alex was taken aback by her description of his subject matter. “What else could there be?” he asked.
The woman shrugged. “There must be something but can’t say what or why.” She paused and then continued thoughtfully, “Maybe that’s where all the stuff of creation can be found. You know where artists find their inspiration and their materials.” Suddenly she blushed and fell silent.
He found her question extremely intelligent and pondered it for some moments.
She said, “I’ve gotten into a reminiscing mood. I hope you don’t mind, Mr. Wainwright.”
Alex had set his newspaper aside and found himself listening intently to her. “Reminiscing about what?”
“I know you’ll find it hard to believe but once upon a time…” She looked about the car too embarrassed to meet his gaze. “I know, today, I don’t look like someone who’s had much of a life, but it did have its moments.”
“My dear lady! Forgive me but I thought no such thing!”
“Then would you like to hear my story? By the time I’m finished, we’ll be in Portsmouth.” She looked out the window for a moment. When she turned back to him, he was struck by the calm dignity in her gaze. “Things are not always as they appear on the surface—as I’m sure you, a painter, are aware.”
Alex drew closer and spoke earnestly. “Please tell me, Miss Trump.”
She looked sharply at him. “Do you believe in dreams, sir?”
“Believe in? Well …of course…”
“Actually, I mean the importance—the significance of dreams.”
Alex had experienced many dreams which did seem exceedingly significant. He sat forward and said eagerly. “Yes, in fact I do! Why do you ask?”
“Because the story I’m about to tell you is a dream or a sort of vision of mine.”
Life for Alex was often punctuated by, sometimes, lovely happenstance. But he knew all too well that such events could come as warnings. Hard to interpret the meaning in most cases!
He said, “Please go on, Miss Trump.”
She smiled and began. “I can’t be sure if it was a dream or a vision.” She looked at him shrewdly. “Do you know what I mean?”
“Good. Let’s just say, I was in a state of altered consciousness.”
Alex’s eyebrows shot up. Before him a sat an elderly woman who some unkind souls might call frumpy. Apparently, by appearances, not terribly well educated nor, if one paid little heed, particularly worldly. But here she was speaking of altered states of consciousness and raising questions about empty spaces in art. She was right. Things were often not as they seemed.
She began to speak as if in a trance. “Someone has died. I think it’s a child…someone I’m related to. I’m sitting in a darkened cave or no! I think it’s a barn because there is straw all around. A man—he’s a doctor—is speaking to me in a very kindly fashion. His voice is soft and low. I am swept with a sorrow I have not known in this life.”
I must tell you that I sat transfixed! I had no way of knowing about all the events of our night crossing which were about to happen. Somehow, I just knew that I would remember her tale for life. But, I did not expect it would dictate my actions and possess me body and soul for the coming days. If you read Night Crossing you will find my meeting Miss Trump foreshadows the many strange and inexplicable events to come.
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing.
The novels of The Trilogy of Remembrance may be purchased anywhere online, including right here at Amazon. Just click the coin or check out the carousel below.