"The train doesn't feel like home"

Two hours into our 33-hour train ride from the Maritimes to southern Ontario. Trees and rivers rush past out window. Everything is exciting. Everything is new.

Jane: (smiling) The train doesn't feel like home.

Me: What do you mean?

Jane: It just... doesn't feel like home.

20 hours and two trains later. Jane pauses mid-drawing to say something that's struck her again.

Jane: The train doesn't feel like home. Do you know what I mean?

Me: I think so.

But I don't. Not yet.

Seven hours later. Our train has broken down in the middle of southern Ontario farmland. A short wait becomes a long wait. A second train comes along and pushes us the rest of the way to the next station. A voice comes on the public address system telling us we must gather all of our belongings and switch to another train.

It is late. Jane and Alice are sleeping. Somehow, Erin and I manage to shoulder all six bags and both girls. Henry is a big help.

I am carrying Jane. She stirs.

Me: We have to move to another train.

Jane: I thought we'd be there by now.

She begins to cry.

Me: I'm so sorry. I know it has been a long trip. I know you're tired. But if you just close your eyes again, when you wake up again, we'll be there with Grandma and Grandpa.

She cries harder. Between gasps, she says again what she intuitively felt from the beginning of the trip.

Jane: The train doesn't feel like home.

Me: I know.

And I do.


Henry is choking on a mouthful of carrot.

Henry: *cough* *hack-hack*

He picks up the water cup by his plate. It is empty.

Henry: *cough* Can I *hack* have *cough-cough* some *cough*  H  *hack*  2  *cough-hack-cough*  Oh?  *cough*

Erin pours him a cup. He drinks. Crisis averted.

Erin: Wouldn't it have been easier to have just said "water?"

Henry: Mum. I'm a scientist.

Jake: fur ball

Jake lays on the floor by the couch. Only a dog can make the cold hard ground look this comfortable.

Alice approaches. Jake settles in for a good session of petting.

Alice: Does Jake has skin?

It's under his fur.

Alice: (moving the fur around with her fingers) I can't see it.

Erin: It's under there. Keep looking.

Alice: *gasp* I think he has green skin!

Jane walks in the room.

Jane: (rolling her eyes) Silly Alice. Jake doesn't have skin.

Sisters. Semantics.

It's just before lunch. Alice stands on a chair beside me at the kitchen counter.

Alice: I holding mustard.

Me: Yes. We'll need that in a minute for the sandwiches.

Alice: And cheese.

We hear the front door burst open. Two angry feet kick off a pair of rubber boots and stomp across the house to the dining room. There is a scraping of chairs on the floor, then silence.

Alice: Who that?

Me: I think Janey is hiding under the table.

Alice: I go talk to her?

Me: Good idea.

Alice climbs down from her chair and walks to the dining room.

Alice: Jane? You in there?

Jane: No. Go away.

Alice: You mad at something?

Jane: Yes. 

Alice: You mad at Henry?

Jane: Yes. And I want to be alone.

Alice: OK.

They are quiet a moment.

Alice: I be alone with you, Janey?

Jane: OK.

More silence.

Alice: You want be alone with me in the tent?

Jane: Yeah! Let's go!