The train looked different as soon as Benny got on, higher ceiling, longer carriages and no seats at all. She always sat in the same seat so this confused her immediately. She put her briefcase down between her feet so that she could hold it between her ankles – commuters will understand this, it’s the only way to be sure only the bravest, most foolhardy bag snatcher will try to steal it – and, as she straightened up, someone threw a basketball at her. No, they threw it to her, not at her. So she caught it and, instinctively, bounced it once and threw it, legally, two-handed, to a teammate, who ran off up the carriage, bouncing the ball as she went.
It all felt a bit strange though. She felt a bit strange. It felt like a dream but it wasn’t. Benny knew dreams, she knows dreams, she knows how they feel and how they smell when you’re in them. This wasn’t a dream. But now she’s not sure what else it could have been. She doesn’t play basketball; she doesn’t have a teammate; you don’t play basketball on trains. Not on the commuter trains she was used to anyway; maybe on the long-distance luxury trains. But it’s unlikely.
She wasn’t really sure what to do. She looked around and saw people playing basketball at the far end of the carriage. Well, that’s what it looked like but, as in dreams, it was all a bit hazy, a bit fuzzy, a bit foggy, as if she were asleep. She kept talking about dreams and sleep, but it wasn’t the one and she wasn’t the other.
So if it wasn’t a dream, it must have been true. So Benny joined in and, when she arrived at her destination, she picked up her briefcase, she mopped her forehead – she’d been playing basketball after all, standing still, yes, but still playing, holding onto her briefcase between her ankles, but still playing – she mopped her brow, picked up her briefcase, got off the train and walked to the office.
It never happened again. But it happened then. She knows it did. She was there.