The first thing I noticed about her was that she was eating purple carrots. Now, say – I was startled enough to blurt – where did you get those?

Looking up, she merely raised an eyebrow. I blushed darker, I am sure, than her carrots and stammered, I mean they are so rare, aren’t they?

She blinked at me, and replied, saucily, well to some people they are, I suppose. And proceeded to eat, slowly and disdainfully, bite by purple bite. 

Usually not so brusque, I stuffed my carry-on bag into the compartment above, along with my jacket, and thunked down beside her, determined to keep to myself and ignore this annoying young woman – and her carrots. I wrestled out my laptop and proceeded to check my email. 

Crunch crunch crunch from the purple carrot-eater. She crunched and she crunched and she crunched. I plunked and I plunked and I plunked. There was a growing awareness of the silence, but for the crunching and the plunking. Suddenly, we both gazed at one another and, for more than a few seconds, held one another’s eyes. Just as suddenly, we both were convulsing in our seats. We cackled. We howled. Her carrots fell and I dived after them just as she did. We banged heads, causing us both to groan, and begin to chortle even louder. The entire train car fell silent as we laughed uproariously.

In no time, a prim-nosed attendant was gtaring down at us, growling sternly, you simply must respect the privacy of the other passengers. We cannot have cavorting and carousing on our trains. Please contain yourselves.

But I was not done with whimsy. My eye caught that of the purple carrot eater, and I forced my mouth to cease its seizure and said, gruffly, with a muffled sincerity – Is it possible there might be some pumpernickel on board? I am having a most terrible urge for a piece of pumpernickel. I made the mistake of glancing again at Miss P C E. Plunky, behave, she hissed, and dived for her fallen carrots with a snort. 

The attendant regarded me savagely. Pumpernickel? – she sneered. Bloody pumpernickel?  Her voice and chin rose derisively. All around us, people jeered too, grumbling, Pumpernickel? What the Devil?

I looked up at her innocently, blinking, Why, yes, pumpernickel. It’s excellent for the digestion, I am told. I tasted a purple carrot, you see, and they absolutely have made me crave pumpernickel. Purple carrots make you desire pumpernickel so badly you will do anything to get it.

The attendant, her enraged eyes boring into my own, her pupils shrinking to dark purple dots in her forehead, fiercely retaliated: I suggest you have your purple carrots and your precious pumpernickel in your own home where you can do whatever suits your purple fancy. Now please BE QUIET, Mr. Plunkuss. Whereupon the madam turned and stomped away, swaying with the train. Hungry, together we conspirators devoured those tender, purple carrots. 

Copyright Kate Orland Bere

© 2012. All Rights Reserved.