They say when you begin a journey you’re supposed to feel ecstatic, hopeful. What happens when, at journey’s end, you must start another? For what if home is not permanent? It was a constant, internal battle Evynne knew all to well.
As she sat in the train on her way to her new “home,” she clenched her backpack knowing she wouldn’t be lingering in this town. She hated it. She was not some object people could give up when they no longer wanted her. Each and every one of her previous families told her they loved her, that she was the apple of their eye.
But she couldn’t utter those sacred words.
Mother and Father.
She remembered her parents, images that flashed, blurry for a toddler she had been, when they had left her on the stairs of the orphanage. Evynne remembered crying and reaching for those now faint images, wondering why they had left her behind.
Her fifteenth birthday was just around the corner. She wondered if she would be celebrating with her new parents or on a returning train. She sighed as she ran her fingers through her short, choppy platinum hair. Light blue eyes gazed out the window at the land that was beginning to be swallowed in twilight.
The hustle and the bustle of the city almost seemed like a distant memory as the forest consumed much from view. Evynne frowned. She didn’t care much for the forest. Too many bugs. Hopefully her new home had bug spray.
Her train of thought came to a halt as she caught eye of a massive stag. Time itself seemed to slow as the giant creature emerged from the forest, its rack branching out more than some of the trees around it. Moss clung to its antlers while vines draped beside its face.
Its muscles rippled as birds landed on its white hide as its blue eyes surveyed the path laid before it. Never before had she seen such a magnificent animal.
It was almost…magical.
“Hey, Earth to moron!” A shrewd voice bellowed, knocking her out of her trance.
Evynne blinked and turned to see two boys, one of them grabbing her backpack. She shot to her feet, eyes narrowed.
“Give it back!” When her demand was met with laughter, she threw herself at the older boy. He laughed and shoved her back into her seat. He was grinning as his smaller accomplice spat to the side, voice like an incensed snake as he asked, “What’s a boy like you doing on this train?”
“It’s almost disturbing to see an outsider board the train to Sacred Grove.”
Evynne eyes darkened, pale fingers grasping the smooth handle of her hunting knife, “I’m no…”
“Darling, there you are!”
The two boys froze as a man approached. Clearly the elder boy was not a welcomed site; the smaller boy seemed to curl into himself as the other said, “I thought you were in Linntown with your bitch, Cameron.”
Cameron smiled devilishly, “My living arrangements were Substandard, at best. Now, if you please, give back my friend’s belongings. It would be appreciated.”
Both boys gulped and looked at each other before they threw her backpack to Cameron, who smiled and helped himself to the seat beside her. Evynne glanced over at him, an awkward smile pulling on her lips.
“Thanks, I’m Evynne.”
“Cameron. I’m at your service, my lady.” He purred, a smile pulling at his lips as he took and kissed the top of her hand.
Evynne eyes narrowed, reached for her knife and paused.
Her fingers brushed against her bare ankle.
“Looking for this?” Cameron asked with the knife playfully being tossed from one hand to the other. “You should really be more aware of your surroundings.”
Her breath caught in her chest as she pressed against the window.
“Oh, don’t give me that look. I’m only messing with you.”
Gently he offered the knife back hilt first. Evynne quickly snatched it and sheathed it, her eyes never leaving the brown-haired stranger sitting beside her.
“Oh, darling, you’re not my type, you don’t have the right equipment to satisfy me. To me you would be like a toothbrush without toothpaste.”
“Oh, ok I thought…I mean…”
“That I was a pedophile who tries to get a little girl’s pants while they are traveling on a train? Ironically, I get that a lot, being gay in a small town gets rumors started.”
“I… um sorry?”
“Eh, I’m used to it, so why are you heading to Sacred Grove?”
“I’m on my way to meet my new foster family.”
“Oh! Which lucky family gets a gem like you?”
“Uh, their names are Jethro and Martha Kingston? Ya that’s their names.”
Silence dropped heavily upon them as Cameron’s green eyes narrowed,” Kingston, you say? Remind me to call the undertaker when we reach the station.”
“What? Why?” stammered Evynne as she began to fidget.
“Ya, Mr. Kingston is a psychopath, and don’t get me started on his wife.”
“Are…. you…. serious?”
Cameron’s eye stayed narrow but the corners of his mouth began to twitch, “Nah I’m just yanking your chain. Jethro is actually the chief of police and Martha runs a book club.”
Evynne let out a sigh of relief.
“You really gave me scare there. I thought I was entering another bad….” Evynne paused as she absently rubbed her right shoulder.
“Are you still a virgin?”
His question caught her off guard. She frowned as she said, “That’s none of your business.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, it’s just some foster kids get abused by their foster family. Myself include. If you aren’t, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. But don’t be like me and throw yourself to the first person who says ‘I love you.'”
Cameron chuckled nervously as he stretch his arms above his head, “That’s what got me on this return home train in the first place. My ex was a drifter with a silver tongue, he swept me off my feet and spirited me away to Linntown. Worst mistake I’ve made in my twenty-eight years”
Evynne stared at him in shock, it was odd talking with someone who got out of the system. She still had three years until she could become an independent. Perhaps Cameron wasn’t like the others she had meet during her many transfers.
“I’m still am a virgin. One of my foster brothers tried and I sent him to the ER.”
Cameron hummed in approval.
They chatted for hours as the train made its way down the tracks. Twilight had now became dark with the only lights of the moon and the lights of the train to pierce it.