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Travelling Together

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I hope you enjoy this new story. A bit of a ramble at first, but that’s how it came out – and I like the sex. Please leave a comment or a vote: it’s very encouraging!

*****

She was running, hard. Southon could see her effort written on her face while her little dark blue suitcase bounced and jumped behind her, its wheels hopelessly unsuited for the job. Clearly she was used to running, but the twist of her shoulders from the suitcase was spoiling her step. The sun glinted on her dark hair and the chrome on her case.

She got to the end of the road. From there it was a confusing array of ramps and stairs down to the ferry wharf. She dragged the unwilling case along the ramps, over steps and onto the pontoon. The wind played with her hair.

Southon was leaning on the gunwale, the handrail of the boat, watching this with some concern. If she misses this ferry it’s half an hour before the next one, he thought. He looked over to the deckhand, but he had already seen her. He called to the skipper up on the bridge. He was waiting for her – as were a few of the other passengers. The deckhand’s rope creaked as he held it taut, binding the ferry to the pontoon. The boat’s engines grumbled, as if impatient to leave.

She made it. Grinning triumphantly she clattered over the gangway and onto the ferry. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, even raising a few cheers here and there, a small victory for all of them. The deckhand expertly flicked the rope clear of the pontoon. As the woman slowed down and stepped off the gangway, her dark blue suitcase slipped off the edge, yanking her over towards the young man watching from the gunwale. She cried out – more in surprise than anything else – as she stumbled, just as the engines roared into action and the ferry swung away towards the open water.

Southon had a strange sense of time slowing down. He saw the stumble and the fall, just as he felt the diesels rumbling under the deck. He saw her coming towards him, but he was also aware of the motion of the boat making him less steady on his feet. He braced himself and bent his knees slightly.

She crashed into him in a flurry of dark hair, but he had his arms ready and he held her firmly as the boat rocked on its way.

Time was still slowed down, but the moment swung slightly, from saving the woman to the impression of her. Southon’s first thought was her weight. While not at all a big person, he was surprised at the effort of completely supporting someone. At the same time he was aware of a softness, of curves under the jacket and outdoor clothing, of her breathing. The suitcase bumped hard against his leg.

Then the hair caught him. The breeze off the water and the swinging ferry tousled the dark strands across her face and his own. It had the faint scent of shampoo, and sunlight, mixing with a salty tang from the water. It tickled. He’d never come across anything like it in his life.

The woman tidied her hair back from her face and curled it around one ear. It allowed Southon to her face clearly. She was actually older than he’d first thought – not that he’d really thought about her age, but now he saw the fine lines on her face. Her face was attractive, a strong face, not a classically slim, “feminine” face. Her skin was slightly darker than his Anglo colouring, even with a tan. She had a generous smile and soft lips, but it was her eyes that arrested him. They were big, dark pools, slightly slanted, with maybe some Chinese ancestry, or Pacific Islander, that held him as if by magic. She wore mascara and eyeliner that further enhanced her gaze. She seemed to look right into him.

“Thanks! Thanks awfully – for a moment there I thought I was going to end up in the drink!” She surprised Southon with her English accent and choice of words. He could only stammer a halting “it was nothing” as she stood up, straightened herself out and found her suitcase. Cheerily she thanked him again and went off to find a seat, leaving him still standing there.

Southon was confused and embarrassed, so he turned to watch the river traffic. But the vision of her face looking up at him, framed by her thick black hair, with that smile and those eyes, plus the curves he felt, it wouldn’t leave him.

It was not a long trip through the harbour, then a short bus ride to Hamilton station. Southon couldn’t stop thinking of her, of things he could have said, of ways to make a conversation. He was normally able to at least speak sensibly to girls – even if they mystified him. He could treat them with respect, something they appreciated as a rule. He had such mixed feelings about them, so he hadn’t felt close to many, or any in fact. He had lots of romantic (and quite explicit) fantasies, but how to achieve them, or even establish a relationship, that had eluded him.

Pondering his enthusiastic but virginal state, he walked up and into the station. Idly he stared across the tracks at the other platform, much busier than his side. Many people had cases and bags; a good few had the famous cheap plaid carry-alls, wrapped around with straps, antalya escort since the zips were equally famous for failing.

He noticed the woman again, with her dark blue suitcase, looking at him quizzically. He’d somehow missed her on the ferry and in the bus, so it was another surprise to see her. She pointed down the line and cocked her head, asking the question. There was a far-off sound of train wheels on steel tracks.

With a start Southon realised he was on the wrong platform. The crowd with the luggage opposite were on their way to Sydney obviously. So was he, but not on this side of the tracks. He frantically grabbed his bag and sprinted to the exit. The Sydney train rolled into the station.

The boom gates were down, their lights winking and the bells ringing urgently. The way was blocked. Luckily there was a new bridge over the tracks and he took the steps two, three at a time. He clattered down the far side and onto the platform, which was now empty. Some announcement warned everyone to keep clear of the doors.

The woman was there, in the doorway, keeping it open by standing in the way. She had the same triumphant grin she’d worn on the ferry as Southon leapt past her and into the carriage. He had the advantage of a more stable landing, so he managed to keep his feet. She clapped her hands for joy.

“Bravo! That was brilliant!” The English lilt again. “I saw you across the way there and I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if he’s got the right platform?’ I’m ever so glad you twigged. That was a fantastic run, by the way! Bravo again! And bravo to me for holding the train and repaying the favour!” She was plainly delighted by the whole thing.

Southon made a better attempt this second time. “Thanks a lot for that. I appreciate it. If I’d missed that train I’d have definitely missed my connection at Central.”

“You’re going on? Where to?”

“Melbourne. As it is, it’ll be close, but you’ve made the difference between definitely missing it, and maybe catching it.”

Her face fell slightly. “That’s a bit worrying. I’m going on that train too. I thought it would be OK.”

“Normally, yes. But there’s a lot of trackwork, so we may be held up. But at least there’s a good view along the way.” And good company if I can stay with you, he thought to himself.

“Yes, I looked it all up!” I’m keen to see it. If you know this line, perhaps you’d care to join me?” Oh yes, I’d love to join you.

It was a double-decker train, so it was obvious to go upstairs to get the best view (the promenade deck, she called it).

Once settled in on opposite seats, she looked directly into him again with her strong, dark eyes. “Now, introductions. I’ve been terribly remiss about them. My name’s Aurora.”

“I’m Southon.”

“So pleased to meet you, Southon. And thank you again for saving me.” She paused as her eyes cast over him sitting there, as if taking something in.

“I was happy to do it. It was no trouble, I can promise you. And the way you held up the train for me just then, thanks for that, again. You looked like a pro.”

“Well, I must say, the driver was a lot more decent than the ones on the Tube. They never worry about the passengers, they just shut the doors and that’s that. If you’re between them you get squashed!”

“The Tube?”

“The London Underground. It’s only ever called the Tube, except on the official signs. Yes, I am English. I saw your surprise when I spoke to you on the ferry. Do I look too exotic to be English? We come in all colours and sizes these days.” There was the slightest hint of irritation in her voice.

Southon was momentarily abashed, realising she understood that her non-whiteness had disconcerted him; it was also the reason why he was fascinated by her. He thought he had better come clean.

“You’re right, of course. I was a bit surprised, and I shouldn’t have been. We laugh at Americans and British people who think we’re all suntanned Crocodile Dundees with pet kangaroos. I’ve done the same thing with you, but in reverse. I’m really sorry.”

“Well, I’ll forgive you, if you let me ride your pet kangaroo!” The warmth was back.

“I can even teach you a bit of Australian. We used to tease the exchange students at school – some of them were surprised we even spoke English, so we made up another language.” Aurora looked quizzical again. “Try this: the morning greeting is ‘Coolangatta Wollongong’. The afternoon greeting is ‘Wollongong Coolangatta.'”

“Hmm! What does that really mean?”

“They’re just place names. We have some good ones, like the one that you say once, ‘wogga’, but you have to write it twice: Wagga Wagga.”

“You made that up!”

“Trust me. When our train passes through Wagga, I’ll wake you up.”

Aurora smiled thoughtfully. “You may do that.” She said, half to herself.

The train route pulls up through the suburbs of Newcastle, then rolls through lush bushland, giving you glimpses of bright blue lakes and sleepy settlements, occasionally offering views of the Pacific Ocean. They chatted lara escort most of the way.

Aurora loved travel, but with one condition: it had to involve trains. “I can’t explain how it started. Thomas the Tank Engine? Miniature railways by the seaside? The Great Train Robbery? Whatever the case, I’ve found you get a completely different view of the country when you go by train. And the more you use the local trains, like this one, the better.”

She stood up, stretched luxuriously, walked a few steps then came back. “Try doing that on an aeroplane or a coach! It’s so roomy on a train, it feels almost like a house whizzing through the countryside. In a plane, it feels like you’re in a phone box! Okay, I’m probably overstating it, but you know what I mean.” She smiled broadly.

Southon smiled back, agreeing with her, but in his mind replaying the sight she had given him as she stretched. As her arms went up her breasts rose and firmed, then lowered gently as she relaxed. Her hips swung as she walked and turned. The curve of her back complemented the curves in front and combined with her broad smile. Even her eyebrows and the curve of her eyelids added to the effect. Southon struggled not to gape at her.

They talked easily and the scenery flew past. Aurora was impressed with all the double-deckers. “So efficient! It’s surprising more countries don’t do it.” She was also impressed by the construction of the line, with so many cuttings and tunnels, and the highlight of the trip: long stretches at water level. With the sparkling waters of Broken Bay on one side, rugged sandstone and thick bushland on the other, the train races along just above sea level.

Aurora told him stories of other train adventures. The French TGV that hurtles across the country at over 300 km/h. The windows have warning stickers on them: “do not look out the window or it may make you feel sick”. The Swiss rack railways, with special gears whose teeth engage with the teeth in the rack underneath, literally holding the train against gravity.

Southon had a few railway stories of his own. “I hope you go to the Blue Mountains Scenic Railway.” he laughed. “One section’s pretty near vertical. Every time I go on it I tell myself how safe it is, how long it’s been there and how reliable it is, but I still freak out!”

Aurora literally clapped her hands. “It must be a rack railway too! That sounds perfectly marvellous! I must go there before I leave. Any other travel suggestions? There’s the Indian Pacific, which I’m booked on, and the Ghan, which felt a bit touristy, to be honest.”

Southon struggled a bit. “Melbourne has Puffing Billy, which is a narrow-gauge line in the mountains nearby. But it’s a bit touristy as well. In fact, it’s very touristy. Nothing but touristy.”

Aurora made a face. “That sort of thing’s all very well, but I want to see real trains doing real work. I read about the iron ore trains in the north-west, so long they need eight locomotives, that are just needed to get the empty train from the port back to the mine. That’s what I’d like to see!” They had passed coal trains on this route, and they had fascinated her.

They were now in the suburbs of the big city, speeding through stations so fast the people standing on the platforms seemed to be frozen still. There had been delays and it seemed the driver was trying to make up time.

At Central station their train came in to a platform dangerously far from the one they wanted. The big interstate train was clearly visible as they approached. Southon could show her as they approached, how far they had to run.

The big double-doors opened and they took off as fast as they could. The repetition of catching the ferry, then nearly missing the train in Newcastle, had them laughing at each other all the way. Until the wheel came off Aurora’s dark blue suitcase. The case wrenched her arm badly as the wheel skittered off along the platform and down onto the tracks.

“That’s trouble,” she said through clenched teeth as she clutched her arm.

“Maybe I can carry one end. Where’s a handle? Right, let’s go!” Southon grappled with his own bag and the case, somehow managing to drag and carry and bounce them both onto Platform 1 and past the rear engine, roaring even at idling speed. They ran up to the guard waiting for them. She shook her head at them, but at least she could smile at the effort they had made.

They tumbled into the nearest car, gasping and laughing. Aurora’s suitcase was now upside down and its one remaining wheel looked so sad, turning slowly by itself that they burst out laughing again.

When they had caught their breath they began the trek to find their seats. They found Southon’s first, a few cars up the train. He stowed his bag on the shelf overhead, then looked at Aurora, wondering what to do next. He was anxious not to lose her now, but couldn’t think of a reason why she would want to stay.

She solved the problem herself, turning to the passenger across the aisle from him. “Do you mind awfully manavgat escort if I sit here for a moment?” She said brightly. The man next to the window gave a little nod and Aurora sat down across the aisle from Southon, beaming at him. “There!” she said simply.

The earlier conversation started again as if it had barely been interrupted. Aurora was amused by the train itself. “It’s a good old Intercity 125! Fastest diesel in the world, and totally amazing back in the 70s, I’m told. The electrics are faster these days but I’m still going to enjoy this. After all, I’ve never got an Intercity sleeper before!”

“You’ve got a sleeping seat?”

“A compartment – a tiny one. Oh yes. Sit up by day, lie down by night. They’re a special treat I give myself every now and again. I’m getting just a bit past sitting up all night and then sightseeing all the next day. We can go and have a look later… if you like.”

Southon agreed to that, but afterwards wondered why the pause as she spoke it. He decided it was all part of this slightly surreal journey.

The dinner orders were announced. Suddenly they both were very hungry.

“Lets order dinner and get a snack now. We’ll have the snack here and the dinner in my compartment.” Aurora seemed to be getting more and more excited about the journey.

Over sandwiches and a salad, with coffee in paper cups (but not too bad, they agreed), Aurora pored over her new book.

“You bought me a colouring book!! And tiny coloured pencils. How sweet. No one’s ever done that for me. But I have to ask, why on earth do they have them for sale? These pictures… they’re ancient! Oh look, a map of all the places you can take a train to… and there’s, how do you say it? Wagga Wagga?”

“Just Wagga, usually.”

“So you weren’t making that up, and we do go through it. I’ll see if I’m awake.” Southon noticed her smile, but couldn’t make sense of it.

The train left the city and the sprawling suburbs. In the evening light they watched as houses gave way to rolling hills. The sun was setting behind distant mountains that grew larger as they approached. The conversation slowed down. Southon found himself having short dozes, or sitting with half-closed eyes. He was disconcerted to realise his eyes would keep returning to Aurora. He admired the curve of her hips as she sat, or the easy tilt of her head as she looked out the window. If she caught him looking she would raise one eyebrow and smile slowly – something that made his heart flutter. It annoyed him: he hated the idea of men who leered at women, objects for their lust or use, but here he was, was he doing the same thing? Yet it felt really good. And he was sure Aurora was enjoying it as much as him.

The conductor appeared and Southon awoke with a start. “Aurora, your seat…”

Aurora grinned at him. “Not a problem. I had a number to text, so I’ve told the railway people I’m on board already.” She called them “railway people” as if they were old friends, which in a sense they were. All the staff seemed to know somehow that she was a different sort of passenger. The conductor easily found her on the manifest, then asked if she’d like some help finding her berth.

“Thanks awfully, but my friend here will take care of me.” She had obviously worked everything out long before this. “We should probably go there now. Can you give me a hand, Southon?”

So they made their way through the train toward the sleeper cars. Aurora led, stepping lightly up the centre aisle. Whenever she came across someone’s foot sticking out, or a child wandering near their parents’ place, she would always stop and speak politely to them to get past. “I’m enjoying myself so much, I want them to as well. Besides, what does it do to your soul to be rude?” It was an idea that had not occurred to Southon.

They arrived at her compartment. It was rectangular (or as Aurora put it, “oblong”), narrow enough to touch both walls at once, but long enough to fit a bed – if there was one. There were two comfortable seats opposite each other, between them a folding table hinged against the wall. Aurora pointed at a narrow cupboard beside one seat. “I’m guessing that’s for the luggage.” There was a surprising amount of space inside it.

Just opposite her door was the door of the next compartment. Between them was another door, labelled “Shower/WC”, to be shared between the two compartments. Aurora opened the door.

There was really only room for one person in there, it was so small. Just inside was a shower curtain, freshly washed and still with the folds in it. Just past that was a stainless steel cubicle, with little doors and hatches here and there, each with a small label. To one side it read, “BASIN” in small but important letters.

Pulling down the handle revealed a large washbasin, with taps, power socket, paper towel slot, everything ready. The drain was set back in the wall. This all delighted Aurora.

Another hatch cover became a soap dish. Overhead was the shower rose. The taps were off to one side, to make them easier to avoid if the train jolted. A folding shelf and a seat were available. A large, low-set hatch was labelled “WC” in the same important letters. It folded down to reveal a stainless steel toilet, in the shower cubicle, the waste pipe again cleverly placed back inside the wall.

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