(Miss Watson and Jophiel is now also available to view at: www.inbytheeye.com/MissWatsonandJophiel.html )
The train was beautiful as far as trains go. It was the same color as the wheat fields they passed and would have disappeared into the landscape had it not been trimmed in green with its name “JOPHIEL” written on the side in ruby. A nice little surprise they discovered on their first journey from the town of Patience to the hamlet Fortitude. Now, they always waited for the engine Jophiel – their journey somehow had more confirmation. Inside the ceiling was the color of the leaves hanging over the platform. The seats, while more like benches, were intricately carved wood and perfectly contoured to Jophiel’s back. Miss Watson chose a spot for them directly in the middle of the car, so she could see out on both sides. They ordered toast and tea and the train jolted forward to its next destination.
“I’m starving,” Miss Watson announced.
“You just ordered.”
“I hate traveling, it takes all my energy,” she complained.
“Burning an entire forest is what takes your energy,” Jophiel pointed out, “to travel takes no energy at all. We can just sit here and enjoy the ride.”
“How did Victorians ever get anywhere at this pace? I could have walked there by now?”
“Wherever we’re going,” sighed Miss Watson.
“In your corset?” teased Jophiel.
“Yes. In my corset.”
“You would have fainted forty feet from the train station.”
“Well, at least I wouldn’t be conscious to burn trees.”
As much as she tried, Jophiel couldn’t convince Miss Watson to drop her anxieties nor stop blaming herself for them. She decided they’d get off at the next station and find the solace of a quiet restaurant for lunch.
Quiet is what she needed too. She had raced out of a hectic life leaving a desk job, mounting bills and a married boyfriend behind. But that was just it. She had left them behind. When she rented the balloon ride to treat her friend for her birthday – all her worries had remained on earth – the higher she went the farther away they got until Jophiel cracked with laughter and relief. Her friend however, cowered in the bottom of the basket with her Fear of Heights. Perhaps it was the air or her giddiness, but the longer they rode on the more Jophiel began to forget things: the street she worked on, her boyfriend’s voice, her friend, Miss Watson’s, first name. Miss Watson. Miss. Watson. Jophiel had always thought it the most beautiful name, but she couldn’t remember it now. And when they touched down back in the field from where they launched – all was different.
The train finally crawled to a halt. After an hour and two rounds of toast with lime-scented tea, the ladies found themselves in Endurance. A larger town set in a valley with a busy square full of shrieking birds, loud musicians, screaming children and a large market. Too noisy for their needs they pressed their way through the crowd to a restaurant on the far corner: a red brick building with a bright white door and sign in the window reading “Tables for Ladies.” Jophiel and Miss Watson looked at each other unsure of what that meant – but figuring they were welcome, went in. And just as Jophiel was about to clear the threshold a flash of bright blue skirt caught her eye.
She thought so.
Standing in the square amidst all the uproar was Lady Anxiety. She had followed them into the Victorian era somehow. And had been with them all the way. How much longer Jophiel could keep that from Miss Watson – she didn’t know…
TO BE CONTINUED…