The girl on the train

She was shaken out of her musings by an unknown phone ringtone. It is funny that it was her phone ringing, but the ringtone was Axl Rose from Gun’s N Roses whistling ‘Patience’. We used to take such a train to camps in Zakopane; in such cars, teachers would fight with smokers with thick moustache, and the red WC sign would be on all the time, as if shouting ‘OCCUPIED!’ She heard it. A squeal like the ones in D horror films, when a sadist grabs a spinning dental bur and gently, with finesse, starts to saw your frontal lobe. She could feel a stream of water spurting from under the bur like from a fire hose; she could almost see LED diodes – touted by Mr Jacek, a sales rep from a company providing dental equipment – charging and attacking her eye. All of a sudden, she felt a sense of relief. To say it was silent is like to say nothing at all. She opened her eyes when she heard birdsong; the sound was so clear as if it was produced by the best stereo speakers launched in 2035. In front of the clinic, there was a train. Not a Pendolino or a modern SKM train but a long-distance train with a cult huge two between its windows. ‘It must be a vintage ride,’ she said and thought, ‘oh, we used to take such a train to camps in Zakopane; in such cars, teachers would fight with smokers with thick moustache, and the red WC sign would be on all the time, as if shouting “OCCUPIED!” And that smell of seats! It is a pity you cannot record it to cry over it later, like old hits signed with ‘90s’ at YouTube.’

She was shaken out of her musings by an unknown phone ringtone. It is funny that it was her phone ringing but the ringtone was Axl Rose from Gun’s N Roses whistling ‘Patience’. On the screen, instead of an unknown or known number, she saw Gun’s N Roses’ logo with Colt pistols and two red roses. ‘Fine, fine,’ she said to herself firmly, because that is the kind of woman Agata was. ‘Don’t cry, I’m picking up!’

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‘Hello?’ she said in the firmest way possible and calmly at the same time, tinging her voice with a speck of femininity as a counterbalance. ‘Hello,’ she heard a gentle female voice, as velvety as if processed by dozens of audio mixers. ‘I am sorry for interrupting your nice nirvana. My train has stopped. So suddenly.’

‘Good morning,’ said Agata, reassured. ‘But…’ ‘I guess you would like to ask for a phone, I will give it to you right now,’ the woman’s voice was whispering to Agata’s ear gently like plush. ‘First, I will tell you, Miss Agata, that your watch is slow. A minute, to be precise. It seems a little, but who knows, but for it, perhaps we wouldn’t be talking now?’

Agata looked at the passenger car. Across the window, in the light of which she was sitting, she saw a woman waving to her. Actually, she saw big afro hair – unruly curls breaking out of the train, while the face of the stranger was covered with large binoculars like with a mask. ‘Let me anticipate your question. These are my husband’s binoculars; he died in Syria recently, carrying out THE TASK. The temperature was over 1000 degrees, but they survived. They show a credit card PIN from a kilometre, that’s how I noticed your watch was late,’ the passenger explained.

‘But, but,’ Agata did not stop asking as if the woman was a living Google, ‘how did you know my phone number?’ she wanted to add, ‘for Christ’s sake,’ but she was afraid it would work like an automatic DELETE and the whole absurd nice conversation would dissolve into thin air as suddenly as it started.

‘Miss Agata,’ the woman’s voice was massaging Agata’s ear like a true master of Thai massage. ‘I’ve got what everyone has. It’s an app, but its module isn’t so obvious. It’s like a filter used for searching vehicles at an auction website; I select phone numbers in a given area, which I can narrow down or expand. I can set sex, age, and so on. ‘But,’ Agata interrupted, regaining her confidence, ‘you can call all those people regardless of how they feel about it, can’t you?’

‘Of course,’ said the passenger, who did not get confused. ‘To be honest, do you, Agata, never use your advantage in everyday life? In a positive way, of course,’ she stressed.

‘Okay, okay, I’ve won this round. You can call me Red,’ said the passenger. ‘Temporarily, I don’t have a name, but please call me that if you don’t mind. I studied logics at university,’ she carried on, ‘and if I were a good student, I think you should ask me where I’m going.’ ‘Whoa, hold on!’ shouted Agata. ‘A point for me. Dear Red friend, at present, you aren’t going anywhere because your iron steed stopped here and won’t move.’ ‘Oh, so you’re fighting,’ the woman got excited. ‘It’s my turn then. Click on the link I’ve sent you. Do you see what I see? I can get online footage from all cameras installed on that railway line. Check it out.’

Indeed, Agata saw the picture on her phone, showing the area near the skyscraper ‘Zieleniak’ in Gdańsk. On the tracks, she saw something that looked like a big American pick-up with a huge boot and a square cabin. It was a regular small trolley for transporting beams and repair crews. The picture became grainy and after a while, it showed the same vehicle with construction works in the background. Immortal KONE cranes produced in the 1990s for the Gdańsk Shipyard. Then, the video pixelised for a while to return to a strange picture from a revolving camera, which captured the hospital on Kliniczna Street.

‘Oh,’ Agata said in a sentimental manner. ‘You know, Red, I was born here.’ ‘Recollect, recollect, it’s good for the head,’ she answered. Suddenly, the soft conversation of the two women was brutally interrupted by another squeal of a train. Red nimbly hopped on the platform of the trolley, despite her high heels, giving a five to strange railwaymen.

‘Agatka,’ she said tenderly, ‘look, it’s a mobile rail dental surgery.’ Red opened her mouth widely, and one of the workers dived in her mouth with small teeth tongs. ‘We’ve got it, we’ve got it,’ Red raised something that must have been a tooth. ‘It was eaten by bugs, that is caries, anyway,’ she said to the phone. ‘Here,’ she threw it at the surgery, on a bag with precious contents, aggregate from the tracks. ‘Agata, please make me thirty-two new, beautiful, white teeth, from the same material! I know you can do it! Bye, bye!’ she waved.

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The trolley started. On her phone, Agata saw a panoramic photo of the passenger’s teeth, together with detailed photos of her face and something more. A huge bank transfer with a note, ‘It was nice to meet you; life can be surprising. Am I right, Agatka? Red’.

                                                                                      3 months later….

Doctor Tomasz Zarański answered a call from a laboratory. ‘Tomek, I’m sorry. Nobody in Poland and in the world can identify the material the tooth is made from.’

All characters and events depicted in this story are entirely fictitious. As opposed to Perfect Smile Clinic , which is absolutely real.