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Gertrude

“What you need is a pretty face to take your mind off all that.”

Joe sighed. That was the last thing he needed.

And why, exactly, had he told the old lady about his troubles with Rachel, anyway?

Because they were just two strangers on a train, he supposed. Both lonely souls riding the rails west, leaving their worries behind for a little while.

“I’m hoping this trip will help, Gertrude” Joe said, trying to muster a smile.

His new acquaintance shook her head.

“Only if you find a companion along the way.” She wagged her cane in his face. “Otherwise, you’ll just be thinking about Robin the whole time. Mark my words!”

“Rachel,” Joe said.

“What?” Gertrude cranked.

“Her name is Rachel.”

The old lady pursed her lips and squinted her eyes. “See what I mean? You can’t do nothin’ but think about that girl that done you wrong!”

Joe slumped down in his seat and tried to hide his head. He wished he could move to another car, but the train was full except for the seat beside him, and the one beside Gertrude.

“Things just didn’t work out,” he said.

“Say … don’t look now,” Gertrude said in a quieter voice, “but the answer to your problems is coming our way.”

“What do you mean?” Joe asked, darting his eyes across the aisle.

Gertrude smiled over his head.

“Where you headed, dearie?”

“Denver,” a dainty voice said. Joe would have known it anywhere.

“What a coincidence! That’s where we’re going!” Gertrude said. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

Joe’s face burned bright red, and he wanted to crawl through the floor, slink back home.

“Rachel,” the girl said.

“Well, Robin, why don’t you sit next to Jimmy there?” Gertrude said. “He’s a single man now, you know.”

Published inFlash Fiction

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