How is it that even in a weird, dreamlike moment like this, his grandmother can still bring him down to reality?
“You know better, Thomas. You wouldn’t do that at home. Why would you do it to public property?”
“Grandma, it’s not really…public property, it’s kinda mine.” As soon as the words come out of his mouth, the craziness of it all hits Tommy. He created the train they are sitting in! It’s all from his imagination – real and just as he pictured – wrote it down.
Everything has changed since his grandfather gave him the unusual pen. He still cannot believe that whatever he writes with the peculiar feather, comes true.
Once again his grandmother snaps him out of his reverie. “Firstly, Thomas, ‘kinda’ is not a word, the expression is ‘kind of.’ Secondly, you have been taught to respect your own property, just as I would expect you to respect that of another. I do hate this generation of ‘use and throw away.’
It has been a few weeks since his birthday and since receiving his grandfather’s quill. Tommy is still having trouble believing that it’s all really happening. He is quite convinced that he is going to wake-up at any minute from the weirdest, most incredible dream he has ever had! Tommy looks around the luxury train cabin. It surely looks real. He can reach out and touch everything. With both hands, he rubs the seat’s fabric to either side of his legs. The room smells of oiled wood and vanilla, and is comfortably warm from the sun flooding in through the cabin window.
His grandmother irons out her skirt, “You’re right, Thomas. This is your adventure, a very special moment. I didn’t mean to ruin it.”
“It’s okay, Grandma. You’re right. I shouldn’t be putting my shoes up on the seat, even if it is mine.” Tommy grins at his Grandmother.
“Is it mine?” Tommy throws the question out to the open.
“I…don’t know, dear.” His grandmother, who often has the answer to just about any question, answers with a wan smile.
There’s a knock at the door. The door slides open. At the cabin’s entrance is a young man with wild ginger hair. Tommy is sure that the boy has the same difficulty he has, taming his hair in the mornings.
“Good morning, Madam – Sir! Breakfast is ready. Would you like to follow me?” the ginger lad gurgles.
Maria and Tommy get up to leave the cabin and follow the steward down the hall. After walking through two carriages they stop at, what looks like, a restaurant with blue, studded-velvet seats to either side of the carriage. The tables are laid with bright, white tablecloths, gold trimmed porcelain plates, and a lot of shiny silver cutlery. There is also a lot of crystal: crystal glasses, crystal chandeliers and even crystal bowls filled with water, which passengers are dipping their fingers in. Sun rays bounce around the room unable to decide which item to settle on.
“Your table Madam.” The ginger-head lad pulls out a chair for Tommy’s grandmother and then one for Tommy. They sit down, thank him before looking around in awe.
Ralph continues. “My name is Ralph, spelt like the verb.” He chuckles. “I will be your server today.”
Before they can say anything, Ralph is gone. Tommy giggles as he watches the waiter walk away. Ralph is tall and lanky and when he walks, he looks like a slinky that’s arching forward, about to tumble over. Tommy is sure that Ralph’s posture is due to him having to, constantly, duck doorways.
Maria places her white cotton napkin on her lap, then tips her head at Tommy. Tommy takes the hint and does the same with his. When he looks up again, a silver trolley is singing towards them with Ralph proudly at its heel. The smells curl under Tommy’s nose, making him feel even more hungry. The trolley is laden with a variety of breakfast components: eggs, toast, orange juice, pancakes, fruit, coffee, tea and more.
Maria gazes at the extravagant choice.
“You go first, Grandma.” Tommy offers, hoping that his grandmother will not take long.
“Could I just have a slice of toast and a cup of tea, please?”
“Of course, Madam.” Ralph serves Maria toast and then, surprisingly for a boy of such clumsy stature, he rather gracefully pours his grandmother tea. Ralph leaves the silver teapot in the centre of the table.
“Thank you Ralph,” Maria smiles politely.
“And for you young sir?”
“Could I have pancakes with banana and maple syrup? And a glass of orange juice, please?” Tommy’s eyes light up.
Ralph presents Tommy with his breakfast. Tommy thanks the waiter enthusiastically and immediately tucks in.
Tommy slumps back in his chair with his hands on his belly. Maria shakes her head playfully at her grandson and pours herself another cup of tea. When she looks up again, to her horror, Ralph has returned with a dessert trolley, with every treat imaginable: cream eclairs, doughnuts, scones, pecan pie, caramelised pudding, a selection of sweets, and a little out of place – a variety of fruit.
“Dessert, Sir? Madam? We have a picking of of Hobley’s most mouth-watering desserts and a toothsome choice of Bubbling Burke’s most popular candy. May I just say, the Cloud Puffs are heavenly.” Ralph chuckles.
Tommy looks at his Grandmother searchingly, unsure whether she is going to allow him to have dessert. After all, they have just had breakfast.
Maria acknowledges the plea in her grandson’s eyes. “Go ahead, choose something, but don’t overindulge. You will be sick.”
Before his grandmother can change her mind, Tommy quickly asks for a slice of maple and pecan pie, a bag of Cloud Puffs, as they have been suggested of course, and to make his grandmother happy: an apple.
Once again, Tommy sits back in his chair, he feels sick and urgently needs to lie down. He discreetly unbuttons his trouser, To Tommy’s relief, his grandmother suggests they return to their cabin.
A floating brass loudhailer suddenly appears above Tommy’s head, a bell sound tinkles from it. Tommy sits up. He must have fallen asleep, but it couldn’t have been for long. His grandmother is patting down his hair tenderly, when suddenly a cordial female voice sounds from the loudhailer.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain asks that you please take your seat and fasten your seat belt, ready for landing. Please make sure your hand luggage is safely stowed away, as we may experience some light turbulence on our decent.
On behalf of Captain Scott and the entire crew, we thank you for traveling with
Blue SafFire Express, a non-stop journey to Hobley’s Well. We will be landing in seven minutes.
Sightseeing information is available at the Sightseers booth, and brochures are also available at the stand. All globe-trotters and sightseers, please use the out-of-towners arrival gate so that your ticket can be clocked. The weather in Hobley’s Well is warm and sunny, with clear skies. We hope you enjoy your stay. Thank you.”