Eva’s Lesson

3653A bird seemed to be chirping at me. My eyes opened and looked toward the window. I didn’t see the little bugger, rather green tree leaves illuminated by the sun, promising a beautiful June day. Donna was still asleep on the twin bed above me. I lay on my foam mattress, staring out at the light blue sky. We’d been staying in Eva’s room. I reached over and grabbed the leg of a chair tucked under Eva’s desk. My eyes moved upward and studied a cork board pinned with drawings, post cards, and photos of her friends. The room had a remarkably peaceful feeling. It didn’t seem like Eva was gone from this world, just someplace else.

Today was the day something special would be revealed. Werner and Hanna had promised a “Big Surprise” was in store for us, which they’d first mentioned weeks ago via e-mail. Since then, the kids had been trying to guess what it might be. After driving several miles on the Autobahn, Werner pulled off and drove us to a recently paved, newly landscaped parking lot. Its middle-of-nowhere feel reminded me of a park-and-ride facility. Suddenly a thunderous roar exploded and I found my hands shooting up to protect my head. A blurred image shot past on an elevated track. Werner laughed.

This high speed train was designed and built in Germany, yet didn’t operate anywhere in Germany. This was the test site where potential customers from around the world came to check it out. Singapore had recently purchased a system and Americans were considering one to connect Los Angeles with Las Vegas. Werner held one of his palms parallel with the other. “It raises above the track … goes 400 kilometers per hour, ” he said.

“How fast is that?”

Werner smiled and laughed. “Fast!”

We all returned a polite laugh. “250 miles per hour” he finally added.

Our big surprise was the opportunity to ride this beast. We hopped up the metal staircase and filed inside. It was comfortable and surprisingly roomy. Hanna and Donna sat across from me. Werner and the kids found a spot across the aisle. The train began to roll. Bright red numbers clicked off the increasing speed.  At 60 mph, it didn’t feel very fast. As it gained speed the ride got remarkably smoother. Werner raised his palms and smiled. Gentle din from the polite riders filled the cabin. The flat countryside darted by outside. Speed increased and a hint of nausea crept over me. Thankfully, my attention was diverted. Jill and Neils had been giggling about something ever since the train took off.  Jill let out a walloping cackle and half the train turned their heads which made the two laugh even harder. I was about to say something when a flash suddenly illuminated them. Werner pulled his camera away from his face and smiled.

My eyes stayed on him. I tried to imagine where he found the courage to live a normal life. Losing a child would devastate me. God only knows if I’d recover at all. I slipped my sunglasses over my eyes. The train reached its ultimate speed and everything outside my window became a blur. With my eyes closed, I thought back on my kids’  lives. My God, so much of it was a blur as well. This trip had flown by so quickly. Had precious moments slipped past unnoticed because I’d been more focused on getting back to my life?

NEXT: Let Me Out!

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