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She had gotten on the train that would be taking her from her small town home to her new big city dream. What lied ahead, she had no idea. She walked down the aisle, bag in hand, and took her seat relatively close to the back of the last compartment, wondering just how long this would take. A couple days, at least, she supposed. Smoothing back her hair, she leaned back in her seat and took a look around. There were a few others in the compartment, but there were seven or eight stops before her own. Scooting closer to the window, she looked out and watched her old home as it shrank away.
The first stop came within a short two hour period, but by that time, she was already asleep. She never saw the man who got on and sat beside, as by time she awoken they had passed yet another stop- which was about five hours later. When she woke up, he was gone, but left beside her was a notebook. The outside was dark, but she was able to turn on the light to see the little book. She opened it to the first page.
It was a beautiful sketch, a landscape of clouds and mountains. Above it was written 'Top of the World.' There were several similar to it, different places, though. It looked like the sketch book of an exciting traveler. A great adventurer... Someone interesting and fantastic... Some of the sketches contained people, and some looked like fantasy scenes- and they might have been with the beautiful castles and manors. Through the next few hours, she flipped through the many pages, studying each page closely. Then she got to the last one. She gasped.
It was a sketch of her, her head resting on her arm that had been stretched over the fold down table. her hair fell around her face and down her back, looking as if it had been placed properly for the purpose of the drawing. Behind her was the window and the moving landscape which consisted of blurred trees. Who had drawn this magnificent picture of her? Looking across the aisle, she saw the women who had gotten on with herself.
"Excuse me, miss?" she called shyly to the woman, who looked up from the book she had been reading, "Did you see who was sitting here?"
"Some man," the woman told her, "He got off on the last stop. Were you suppos4ed to meet him?"
"Oh, no," she smiled softly, "He just.. He left a sketch book." The woman sighed and shook her head.
"Well, I don't think there is anything to do about it. I doubt he'd get on a train to find that sort of thing, and the station will just throw it away," the woman explained, "I suppose you can keep it, or just toss it. Too bad. I always make sure I keep my things close."
"I suppose you're right," she sighed with a nod. Leaning back in her seat, she looked back out the window. The rest of the trip went by in a blur of sleep and studying the sketches, checking for some sort of signature. She couldn't find any, not one squiggly cursive mark.
It was nearly nightfall again when she took her first steps off the train. So, it wasn't too big of a place, but it was most definitely larger than her old small town. Stepping off the train, she held her bag in one hand and the sketch book in the other. She still wanted to find the owner, but wasn't sure how she was supposed to find him. She had at least left the address of her new home on the seat in front of her with the message 'I have your book.' She didn't plan on any response, but she hoped she'd get one. She wanted to know just who this man was.
A week went by, a week at least, when there came a knocking on her door. Not expecting visitors, her stomach filled with anticipation. She walked towards her front door and opened it. There on her front steps was a man, possibly just a few years older than herself, propped up on a walking stick. She was confused. She had never met the man, nor could he have gone to all the places in the notebook in order to sketch them. He was crippled.
"May I ask who you are?" she wondered, looking up to his face, which was unshaven. Dark eyes smiled along with the lips.
"My name is Rodger Tantum," he told her, "I read your note. You have my book?"
"Y-your book?" she stammered, raising an eyebrow. Rodger chuckled, now grinning.
"Yeah, a sketch book," he told her, "Landscapes and some, um, other things."
"Oh," she said surprised. She backed out of the door way so Rodger could come into the home, "Come in, then. I'll get it for you.. Do you want some coffee?"
"Sure," Rodger nodded as he hobbled through into the house, "I take it black." She nodded, smiling. Closing the door behind him, she ushered him into the living room before going off to get the coffee and sketch book from the kitchen. It took her a few minutes to gather the things, and then she went back to the living room, where she found Rodger taking in his surroundings with perceptive eyes.
"Here it is," she smiled, setting the sketch book and coffee down in front of Rodger.
"You have a nice home," Rodger regarded, picking up the coffee and taking a sip of his coffee as she sat opposite him in her cushioned arm chair.
"Thank you," she responded with a small smile, "Um, might I ask about your sketches? I looked through them, and I'm interested in how you drew them with your… um…"
"With my leg in the shape it's in?" Rodger smiled, then shrugged, "My dad liked to go exploring the world. He'd tell me everything he saw, and show me pictures.. It was always my dream to go where he went, but I can't really. I've always had this.. issue, and my doctor said by next year I could be in a wheelchair."
"Oh," she said softly, concern lacing her voice, "Well, I'm sure you have someone taking care of you?" Rodger snorted.
"It's a dream," he laughed, "I had someone. But as soon as she found out it was getting worse, she was on her way. She didn't need a burden. I don't blame her."
"Oh," she nearly whispered.
"You look a bit like her. Not much, but… a little," Rodger told her.
"Is that why you drew me?"she asked, smiling a little at the flattery of it all. Rodger blushed.
"You saw that, huh?" he sighed nervously, "Well, you know… You just look so much like her, I guess I just-"
"You said your dad told you stories?" she interrupted, "I can probably help you out for a while, if you tell me about traveling." Rodger was quiet for a few minutes.
"Why can't you just go traveling yourself?" he wondered.
"To much exertion," she smiled sadly, "I have a bad heart. I can't do anything too exhausting.. That includes mountain climbing, and trekking across the savannah. Pretty much everything that is not in normalcy. My doctor would have a fit knowing I've gone and changed everything about my life."
"I guess I' not the only one who could use taking care of, huh?" Rodger smirked, "Alright, I'll tell you my stories in exchange for yours."
"Mine?" she asked, to which Rodger nodded to the pictures on the walls, all painted pictures of fantastical scenes that had no place in reality. It was her turn to blush. "They… they aren't really real, you know.."
"That doesn't mean they don't have a story," Rodger smirked. She smiled softly.
"Rodger, right?" she asked, just to make sure.
"Rodger Tantum, at your service," Rodger grinned, "And I don't think I ever caught your name?"
"It's Mable," she smiled, "Mable Sid."