“What’s that on your finger?” The little boy pointed at Mamie’s hand. Something about him seemed familiar.
She looked down at the loop of red thread tied around the tip of her index finger. It was curious.
“Well, when people want to make sure to remember something, they tie a string around their finger. To remind them.”
The boy studied her wrinkled hand from across the aisle. The train rocked back and forth, and mountains passed by their window, far off in the distance.
After a few moments, the child lifted his green eyes to Mamie’s face.
“What are you trying to remember?”
She cocked her head. She was sure she had seen this boy before.
“Well,” she said. “Now … hmmm … well, that’s a good question.”
That feeling was coming over her again, that sense of … being lost. She couldn’t remember why there was string around her finger.
A fly landed on her hand, and she swatted at the tickle just as the car went black. For a beat, Mamie thought she had died, then realized they were going through a tunnel.
When sunlight once again filled the car, the seat across from her was empty.
“Where’s the boy?” she asked. When no one answered, she stood, alarmed. “Where’s the boy?”
Still no one answered, and Mamie stomped down the aisle, grabbing a porter by the sleeve of his jacket. “Where’s the boy?”
“Ma’am, you need to sit down. We’re just about to stop, and then you can look for him.”
“Stop, why would we stop?”
The porter looked sideways at her, not sure if she was serious. “We’re stopping at Hopkins, just like always.”
“Why would anyone want to go to Hopkins?” Mamie shrieked.
“Ma’am, please sit down.”
Mamie pushed past the man and then lurched forward as the train slowed to a stop.
“Has anyone seen that little boy who was sitting back there with me? He just disappeared!”
A few folks whispered and looked in her direction, but no one answered Mamie
“What’s wrong with all of you. There is a boy missing!”
She had pushed past all the other passengers and bounded onto the platform outside the train as soon as the door opened.
“Has anyone seen a little boy?” she called to crowd gathered at the station.
“Grandma!!” It was the sweet singsong call of a child.
Mamie turned toward the voice and saw young Jack racing toward her. She hadn’t seen him in months!
The boy catapulted across the platform and launched himself into her arms. She squeezed him and kissed him, then set him down on the wooden planks.
“Now, let me get a good look at you, boy!” And she did, inspecting him from head to toe. Something about him seemed … familiar.
“Grandma,” Jack said as they turned and walked toward his parents, waiting toward the front of the station.
“Yes, baby?” Mamie said. She felt happy. Not lost at all.
“What’s that on your finger?”