“I think you mentioned it once,” Molly answered softly.
She wished it were raining. Rain and thunder lent themselves to deep thought, and Molly was pondering. Not deeply, but she was thinking about rather curious things, and perhaps she could come to a conclusion faster if the sky was a little more stormy.
But it wasn’t. A perfect blue stretched endlessly outside her sliver of a window. Clouds like mountainous sheep lolled about, out to pasture. Hills of stunning green, dotted with homes and lined with roads flashed past, giving a momentary glimpse into someone else’s life.
It was a beautiful day. A lazy day. Not the kind of day during which one would think about serious things. Molly wished it would rain.
Instead of worrying herself over silly ideas, Molly thought about the character who had sat with them earlier. She had only been there for a few minutes. Molly wondered, with her stop so near, why she bothered to get on the train at all. She had been a rather plump dog, a Corgi in fact, with the most elaborate straw hat the young woman had ever seen. Covered in fake flowers and plumage, it seemed larger than the Corgi herself.
She sat with a purple purse in paw, spectacles nestled on the tip of her muzzle and said not a single word, and had not even glanced at her riding companions. She might have been alone in the compartment.
Molly tried to return the favor. After all, she disliked talking with strangers and she hadn’t been having much luck with that since the beginning of this trip; she never did. But she couldn’t help stealing a few quick looks at the silent Corgi.
It was because of that hat. Screaming “Look at me!” and yet she doesn’t notice anyone else, Molly thought with a sniff. Why bother at all?
She was definitely an older woman. Her paws trembled about the clasp of her purse and her squinting eyes were watery. Maybe her hat was all she had, maybe it made her feel…
And suddenly Molly’s thoughts had come full circle again. Feel what?
The bear sneezed, making them both jump. He ran a claw under his nose. “Excuse me,” he said, rather embarrassed. “I’m allergic to dogs. You think that woman would have had the decency to ask. It is a common allergy.” The young woman gave the slightest of nods in agreement, not totally sure if she agreed.
“Wearing that black veil, people knew exactly who you were and what to think about you,” Molly’s boss had often said to her. “Like the cover of a book. Put a steamy man on there and everyone knows that’s not the kind of book a nun would be reading, let me tell you. People like little tells like that. I think we like them to, when it comes to ourselves. Put something on and it makes you feel a certain way, and makes people think that way about you too.”
Maybe her hat made her feel interesting, Molly mused, bracing herself as the bear fought against another sneeze. Or maybe it wasn’t the hat. Maybe having people see her as interesting made her feel interesting. But she didn’t even pay attention to us.
Molly sighed. Maybe , I was too dull for her to worry about. Or maybe that isn’t the reason at all.
The bear sneezed again, much louder than before. Molly slid lower in her seat.