Budapest Train Dream – As written in the dark

Arriving at some train station —not Nyugati, Keleti perhaps.

MML was there—and Jon, a few other friends. I was sent out to find our way —somehow we’re in an outer area, vacant overgrown lots — darkness has fallen —I make my way across a field — the distant glow of lights in homes — I see a narrow road so steep uphill like a roller coaster that one cannot see the top. There is a line down the middle but the road can only accommodate one car. The other side of the road is solid, high fences, a bus shelter —plastic and aluminum, suburban, old, forlorn, with weak overhead light.

Suddenly, from the top of the hill: lights! I grab Mister Dog who has crossed the road and could be hit — we duck into the bus shelter, me holding him tight. But the lights are paused at the top of the hill, waiting. At any moment I expect them to come barreling down the narrow road past us.

I hear a cry across the field behind us— one of our party has come to fetch me — they’ve found a well-lit city street passage and we are headed towards a hotel, or is it a hospital? On a hill, eerie greenish light, a long wait at the reception desk. Then we all proceed to a houseboat somewhere—is it on the Danube? We unroll bedding in what is more like a train compartment.

In the middle of the night Mister is sleeping near me, cradled by my stomach — someone begins to yell that the boat is sinking. I try to gather up all our bedding in one sheet pulled together by the corners and grab our bag and somehow we make it off…

We go directly to a train, very old-fashioned made of chrome and old wood. We pause in an amazing solarium car with a skylight. The car has three stories — steep balconies like an ancient surgery classroom.

It is all in resonant cedar wood, the color of a fine cello. The lowest level has wooden chaise lounges with leather cushions in the same smeary cedar color as the wood. Everything is smooth, satin-varnished with deco lines and designs. I marvel at how tall and high the car is, thinking of the tunnels it must pass through, the bridges. Someone explains the train goes through the steppes and prairies, endless miles of flat terrain…all the way to Siberia?

The point of waking, but all the scents and atmosphere of Budapest are still circling in the air and sky, the rain soaked streets. The glowing castle above on the hill, the lights of Margaret Island, the bridge and throngs coming from Buda to Pest and back again….

About D. L. Pughe

Freelance writer and artist.
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