17: Who wants to go to sleep?

by Jane Carnall

Who wants to go to sleep? I lie here in a narrow bunk in a tiny room for which I have paid 85 pounds for a single night, check-out time 7am this morning -- butt there is a landscape sliding past my window and I am alone in the night, mu, neither here nor there. I sat in darkness and watched lights, trains, trees skim past my window. If I were rich this is how I would always travel between London and Edinburgh, Edinburgh and London: alone in a first-class sleeper berth. I have told no one -- except those who had to know from whom I bought it -- that I am travelling first class. But the fact is that I have never gone anywhere first class before. Never, not once: and this seems at once a reckless extravagance and worth the money. My sleeper berth is the usual size, but I have it to myself: I have a private sink with magic taps, so I can wash tomorrow morning -- and brush my teeth tonight - I even have room service, at No Extra Charge (hah -- there is considerable extra charge entailed in the "complimentary" room service for first class) but most of all, there is no one else in this tiny room. I can sit on the bunk, propped up against the back wall, and write this: and if I want, I can switch all lights off and watch the landscape go by in the dark. I do plan, yes, to leave the blind up: to sleep and wake to daylight landscape. I wish Iíd thought to order my coffee earlier -- I bespoke it for 6:30, and as I remember I get a croissant and jam, too. Also a free booklet, Margaret Atwood, but in Standard Class I would probably get two -- mine and the otherís, who would no more care about a free book than most people. I am sleepy, but I will stay awake to write this. Someday -- someday -- I will travel by train across the US or Canada, with a sleeper berth to myself and sit in the observation car with my laptop and write. But I will add this in to that strange dream: December to February in Monaco, March to May in Montreal, and then back to London, arriving one day and travelling up by first-class sleeper to Edinburgh the next. May to September in Edinburgh, through all the long light. September to Novrmber in Boston, for the fall colours burning.

And all the while, apparently, I think I would write: I would go to conventions: I would read (oh yes), I would chat online with friends who live half a world away. Wherever I am. Alone. Until this other one, also me, appears to be the companion on the endless voyages from one home to another. To answer: this would be no home. Not cats (unless they lived in Montreal through the summer I was in Edinburgh, and were delivered to Boston for there and for the trip to Monaco: and then would I have cats in Edinburgh? No, I think not.

It would all be strange.

522 words in 16 minutes

25 August 2000

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