OK, then: A ride by train.
Not necessarily one of Virago's preferred ways to travel, not when it comes to driving home for seeing the family, let alone such silly occasions as Christmas.
Back in July she had devised—strictly!—to stay in the city.
Her poky little flat indeed did not offer too lovely a place but, certainly a thousand times better one than the comfortable room which, although the most beautiful place in her parents' house
for a child to grow up, always gave her the impression of a dark basement—would it only have been something like a golden cage.
Night was falling.
She could only see her own face in the black window. Now and then she noticed the dim silhouettes of the landscape passing by which appeared and vanished like diffuse schemes merely projected
into the background of this miserable view. Her head was empty. She was endlessly tired. “Make no mistake,” she had said to herself over and over again,
“this lovely home is the deadliest trap ever laid. Foolhardy to step in. Stay here!” Anyway, there she sat, looking at this darkened view and her pale face. “As stupid it is,” she continued,
“to trip the wire of those to whom you're less than nothing—over and over again. Stupid girl!” But OK: A ride by train then.
“Good evening, Miss. Your ticket, please.”—
“Eh?”— “Your ticket, Miss. May I see your ticket, please?”— “Oh ... yes. Sure. I was lost in thought.” He smiled. She handed him the ticket.
“You need get out one station before the last stop?” he asked. She nodded. “Yes. I'd like to take a nap till then. Would you please be so kind to wake me up on time?”—
“Of course,” he replied, smiled again, and gave her the ticket back. “Thanks.”— “Miss.” The guard left. She leaned back in her seat as best as possible and stared out the window where
her sight stopped at perceiving itself. Then she closed her eyes. She could not sleep, no way; but probably she would find a bit of relief in some quiet moments.
Some noise woke her up.
She felt confused for a few seconds. Then she found her way back to reality. All other people had left while she was sleeping, the compartment was empty. She looked at her watch.
The train would soon stop at her station!
Where was that silly guard? Ah, why should she care. The train got slower, she could even see the first lights of the town. She got her bag and left for the exit.
It was cold there. She was alone.
She stood near the doors and stared out the window, watched how she entered her small home town. A familiar view. The train arrived on time. She pressed the button to open the doors.
She left the carriage.
The train had stopped thus that she stood almost before the front of the station's main building at whose entrance her parents were waiting. They approached when they saw her.
She did not feel well.
Her mother greeted her first, hugged her, then stepped back. Her father did not move a bit. “Virago.”— “Dad.”— All quiet. “You are late, as usual.” She sighed.
“He—yah! And that is all you can say to me, right?”—
“Virago!” her mother burst in, trying to interrupt her. “Stop it, Mum! — Is that all you can say, Dad?”— “Your tone is unbearable.”—
“Is that so,” said she, grabbed her bag and went back to the train. “Virago, what are you doing?”— “How does it look like, Mum? I'm leaving?” And that was the best decision she could make.
Her mother tried to hinder her from entering the train again but it had no use. The doors closed. Virago went back into the compartment,
hiding in a niche so she could neither see nor could be seen from outside. Her eyes were full of tears, not of pain, of wrath, and she found relief in the feeling that the train again moved.
She waited until it had left the station, then she went back to her seat and sat down.
These stupid people!
A silly misogynistic patriarch with a horizon of radius zero which was her cowardly mother's standpoint.
Virago was smart and attractive, chose her contacts with greatest care, and was appreciated by her friends. Since she left home at the age of 18 no one had ever insulted her in the two years
she had spent in the city, and she enjoyed the feeling of being herself, independent, skilful, and rated as invaluable person by others. Just a few seconds she had to spend with her parents
to turn back to small, unimportant, and immature. Ridiculous! No!
Their attitude might be their inmost sense of living, maybe it was their education, and thus not their fault, whatever. But cheating people by playing a happy family no longer was hers.
She did not want to change her parents, how could she?
Anyway, she did not have to live their life, either. And thus she left. She would leave the train at the final stop, then get the next possible train back to the city. And that was the end of it!
She sighed. Had she been tired before: Now she was dead.
She closed her eyes. She wanted to fall in the deepest sleep possible. Someone would come sooner or later to get her out the train. So be it. It was all the same to her. She soon fell asleep.
“Miss? Miss, please wake up!”
It was a friendly voice that spoke to her in a warm and gentle tone. She opened her eyes. The guard gave her a smile. “Sir?”—
“Our next stop is your station, Miss. We'll be arriving in a few minutes. I'm to wake you on time, as you devised.”— “Oh yes! Thank you.”— “You're welcome. Merry Christmas!”—
“Yeah, happy holidays!” she replied, smiling. The guard left. So—she had dreamed? Presumably. She prepared herself to leave at the next station.
The train did not stop near the station's main building.
No one was at the platform, either, because it had started to snow. She thus went to the building while the train began to leave the station. Walking beside the moving carriages
was as strange as it was to encounter the sensations when she only saw the train's red backlights disappearing in the driving snow. She soon arrived at the main building
at whose entrance her parents were waiting. They approached when they saw her. She did not feel well. Her mother greeted her first and hugged her, as usual; then stepped back, as usual.
Her father did not move a bit—as always.
“Virago.”— “Dad.”— “You are late, as usual.”— She sighed. “But I am here—as always.” He sighed. “Yes.”
There they stood, speechless, looking at each other.
She did not know what would happen next, she just faced the very character of future, its undeniable unpredictability. And whether this situation was real
or just again the episode of a bizarre dream emerging from a light and uncomfortable sleep did not matter, either:
There she stood, Virago—
A lively young woman, full of dreams, full of passion for that what she was, the ways she was going, what she was doing, and once would become.
Whether she was surrounded by cowards, misogynists, or other such figures who just did not or could not know it better: All that made no difference. It was all the same to her.
She was relieved.—