Eventually the sprawl of the city lay stretched out like a dark shadow on the ground as we descended from the Blue Mountains. The sky began to lighten as the train raced toward the coastal plain. I followed the path of a truck as it chased the train for a few moments before it came to an intersection while the train raced on. Then there were miles and miles of small backyards behind the houses alongside the railway line. One was full of junk, the next one neat and tidy. Some of the yards had washing on the line and dogs barking at the train. Then the train slowed as it passed the old Mortuary Station and I had to sit up because Mum said we were nearly there.
The porter appeared again with my crutches as soon as the train moved slowly alongside the platform of Central Station. I thanked him again as I hopped down the aisle and climbed from the train carriage. I turned and he was standing at the door waving.
‘Bye miss,’ he called out.
There was an hour before we had to catch the train for the north coast, so Mum decided we should head to the café at the railway station for breakfast. Debbie and Rose were standing with their bags and Mum asked if they would like to join us. Debbie gave Mum a huge smile and said they would love to. She didn’t stop talking all the way through breakfast.
It turned out that Debbie and Rose were in the same year at school as me, but they went to Kinross College which was a private school on the other side of town to where I lived. The twins were nearly a year older than me and they had three grownup brothers.
By the time we finished breakfast, we had already made plans that the girls and their cousins would take me with them to the beach every day.
We still had a little time after breakfast before the train left, so Mum let me browse through the newsagent and buy a new book to read at the beach. I couldn’t decide which book I wanted, but Rose came and stood beside me and pointed to a book called ‘Pride and Prejudice’.
‘You’ll love it, Molly. It’s so romantic.’