I quickly looked around again before I dared to take a look at my treasure. It was actually her book. I opened it. Maybe I would find a name in it, at least that. But there was more, more than I could have imagined, because not only was her name, first and last name written there, but also her address, neatly written in the upper right corner of the first one page written. An unprecedented feeling of happiness flowed through me, because all was not lost, not by a long shot. I spontaneously got off the train while announcing that I would not be doing business today. I was asked when I would be back. We’d see, was all I said and hung up. Then I took the next train back and got off at the stop she always got on at, two towns from my hometown. So close and yet so unknown. Google Maps helped me find the address given in the book. It was a small house on the outskirts. I rang the bell immediately, but nothing stirred. After a few minutes in which nothing happened, the well-known desperation set in again. Maybe I should wait? But how long?
Then the window of the neighboring house opened, and an old woman looked out.
“Are you the man from the train?” she asked.
“Yes, I am,” I answered without hesitation, because I guess I was. Should this all be arranged?
“Catherine told me that if a man comes, then I should ask him that and if it’s him, I should give him the letter,” explained the neighbor, after which she handed me an envelope. I quickly tore it open and scanned the contents.
I was happy, every morning we saw each other on the train, I waited for you to speak to me because I had the impression that there was a special connection between us. But day by day I doubted my assessment more and more. I held out for a long time, but now I can’t anymore. If I’m not mistaken, you will find the address of my whereabouts on the back of this sheet.
I still say thank you for the hope you gave me
I quickly turned the page and scanned the address. That was a good hundred kilometers away, but that didn’t stop me either. I thanked the neighbor, drove home, and continued from there by car. After a two-hour drive and several detours, I arrived at a lonely house in the forest. Catherine must have heard the engine because she was already standing in front of the door as if she had been expecting me. I slowly approached her until we were face to face. She hugged me without a word. It was so unexpected that I couldn’t return her hug. Finally, she let go of me and looked at me.
“I’m glad you’re here, glad I wasn’t wrong,” she explained.
“Yes, I’m here and I could slap myself for not speaking to you much earlier, but you gave me this chance,” I replied, finally finding the words, “But what I want to know, you don’t have any more endured?”
“I lost my husband and two sons in a car accident a little over a year ago,” she began, fighting back tears, “In one moment, everything I loved was taken away from me. I was desperate. I was told after a while that I should go back to work, that takes my mind off things. So, I did. When I first saw you on the train, that was my first day at work. The occupation didn’t help, but this meeting with you made me feel noticed, beyond my pain. There was a chance. But even you probably can’t understand how hard it is, such a stroke of fate.”
“Yes, I can,” I said with certainty.
“Like that? Did you also lose your family?” she asked.
“In a sense, yes,” I replied. “Last year both of my dogs died in quick succession.”
“Your dogs? You mean you can understand me because your mutts died?” she asked and let out an evil, grim laugh.
“Yes, I mean that, but I mean that your understanding does not go beyond yourself,” I replied. Then I turned and walked to my car. I wanted to get away from here and the memory as quickly as possible. How wrong I was.