Excerpt from Molly’s Dreams available now on Amazon
It was late in the afternoon and I was standing on one leg on the railway platform. My broken leg was aching as I leant on the crutches. It had been a week since I had left the hospital but I still wasn’t used to getting around on only one leg.
I was waiting on my own for Mum to come back from the booking office with the tickets and I watched people as they moved about on the platform. Some of them looked like they had been rushing and were worried they were going to miss the train. I wasn’t worried though, because Mum had said we got here in plenty of time.
Suddenly there was a bustle of noise from one end of the platform and I turned to see two girls being farewelled by some guys that I guessed were their older brothers. I watched as the two girls went around the group of guys and hugged each one. They looked to be about my age, or maybe a little older and I watched them with interest because I didn’t know the girls from my school.
One of them was wearing a short floral summer dress and had white sneakers on her feet. Her long brown hair was tied back in a simple pony tail. The other girl was wearing pink shorts and a white top and sandals. She too had long brown hair, but hers was hanging loosely over her shoulders. What really caught my attention about these two girls, though, was that their faces were identical.
The brothers left and the two girls started walking toward where I was standing. I quickly looked away so that they wouldn’t see that I had been watching them, but one of the girls smiled and said ‘hi’ as she walked past me. I looked up and saw the happy eyes of the one with the ponytail.
‘Hi,’ I said back shyly. Just then Mum came out of the booking office with the tickets as the headlight of the train appeared further down the track. I started to feel excited as the train pulled into the platform because now it felt like I was really going on holidays.
There was crazy activity and noise everywhere as the stationmaster blew his whistle. The porter opened one of the carriage doors and I hobbled across the platform on my crutches.
‘Careful with that step, miss,’ he said kindly.
I hesitated, wondering how to step across the gap between the platform and the carriage.
‘Put your crutches across first and then swing yourself over,’ came a girl’s voice from behind me.
I turned to see who had spoken and saw it was the girl with the ponytail.
‘Oh, thanks,’ I said. I was a bit nervous about making the leap with everybody watching me, but I didn’t want these two girls to know that, so I took a deep breath and swung across exactly as she had said.
I turned to say thank you again, but the girl was talking to her sister.
‘Come on, Molly, let’s find our seats,’ said Mum as she walked down the aisle. I shuffled along behind her until Mum pointed out our seats about halfway down the carriage. As I was squeezing into my seat against the window the porter appeared again right beside me.
‘I can look after your crutches, if you like, miss,’ he said. ‘If you need them just call. It will give you more room,’ he added quickly.
‘Oh, thank you,’ I replied. ‘That is so nice of you.’
He dipped his head and, clutching my crutches to his chest, he scurried away with a smile on his face.
I took my book out of my bag and then put the bag at my feet. I was still reading ‘For the Term of His Natural Life’ and had been wandering through the Australian bush with Rufus Dawes for a week. When I sat up again, I was surprised to see the girl with the ponytail looking over the back of the seat in front of me.
‘Hi again,’ she said. ‘I’m Debbie.’ Her smile was so sparkly that I couldn’t help but smile back at her.
‘Hi, I’m Molly,’ I said in my softest shy voice.
‘Hi Molly,’ she said brightly. ‘What book are you reading?’
I showed Debbie the cover and started to explain to her what the book was all about.
‘It’s about this guy that was sent to Australia as a convict, but…’
‘Oh that sounds cool. What happened to your leg?’
‘I had an accident on my bike,’ I said.
‘Ooohh, that must have hurt.’ She suddenly turned around. ‘Hey Rose, come and meet Molly.’
Another face that was the mirror image of Debbie’s appeared over the back of the seat. I wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart if it wasn’t for the different hairstyles and clothes.
‘Hiya,’ she said. She wasn’t as bouncy or happy as her sister.
‘Where are you going?’ asked Debbie.
I told her that Mum and I were going to the beach to visit Grandma and Grandpa. It turned out that they were heading to the same beach for a holiday with their cousins.
‘That’s so cool,’ said Debbie. ‘Maybe we can hang out on the beach together.’
I smiled and said that sounded like fun.
‘What school do you go to?’
I hesitated, because I didn’t want my new friends to know about my school and how everyone thought I was a loser.
Just then the train pulled away from the station with a jerk and Debbie’s face disappeared for a moment. But she was back as quickly as she went and giggling because she had nearly fallen off her seat.
‘Is everything okay here, miss?’ The porter had suddenly appeared in the aisle beside Mum’s seat. I looked across and nodded. ‘Can I get you anything?’ I shook my head and looked back to see Debbie grinning at me as the porter disappeared.
‘I think he likes you,’ she said with a giggle.
‘Really?’ I turned to look at him but he was gone.
‘Yes, really! Haven’t you had guys chasing after you before?’
I blushed and shook my head.
‘I don’t believe that. You’re so pretty and sweet. I’m sure all the guys at school are after you.’
My face was burning hot as I blushed even more and I was feeling uncomfortable that she had mentioned school again. But Debbie didn’t seem to notice and she kept talking to me for ages as the train rushed across the green landscape of scattered farms.
Every now and then she brought Rose into the conversation and her face would suddenly appear over the back of the seat. But she never stayed for long and would soon disappear again. I think she was reading a book and I longed to be able to read mine as well, but I didn’t want to lose my new friend either.
Debbie kept talking until it started to get dark and the porter came back.
‘I thought you might like a blanket, miss.’
I looked at him and blushed because of what Debbie had said. ‘Thank you.’
He bounced away down the aisle with a smile on his face again.
I settled back in my seat and turned my face toward the window to watch the evening settle softly across the countryside. After a while I could see my own reflection in the window as it started to get darker outside. My reflection looked sleepy but happy.
When I opened my eyes again I could see glimpses of lonely farmhouse lights in the distance and bridges and level crossings rushing past. The world outside was dark and cold. Every time I began to doze off again I was woken by a jolt as the train pulled up to the fairy lights of a foggy station. I wrapped myself deeper in the blanket, leaned my head against the cold glass of the window and tried to fall asleep again.