He disappeared! Last she saw he was making his way down the car to the exit, carrying a briefcase. She thought about this awhile. . Well, I guess he'll find a couple of seats empty so he can spread out and sleep. Me, I have not been able to sleep sitting up since The Eighties. Haven't been able to drink three shots of aqua viva since about then either. Cripes.
The train rhythm soon put her to sleep, and night closed in. All around her were sleeping passengers, but she was unaware. Every now and then a sound of fumbling footsteps or a thump against the door of her compartment would half rouse her, but nothing rang bells, nothing pulled her out of the muzzy sleep of too many glasses of booze at bedtime. Just after dawn, a tentative tap at her door did wake her.
She sat up, pulled a worn flannel shirt on over the tank top nightie, and she slid out of bed. Who's there, she called out. It was the conductor, with a note in his hand. That guy you were drinking tea with in the lounge last night.....he asked me to give you this, but I forgot until this morning. Sorry. He handed over a thick folded letter, and went on down the corridor. She stepped out into the narrow space and raised the shade. Sun was just burning the edges of things out there. Wide far-reaching fields, with here and there a lone boxelder or locust, a row of cottonwoods along a stream bed to the right, and not much else.
I need coffee, she murmured, unfolding the pages. Seven altogether, written on both sides, in blue ink. Dear woman, it began, I don't know your name, but I will call you Ursula for now.....