SLOW TRAIN FROM GARMISCH
A long car, grey with dust, raced down the main street of Garmisch. People on bicycles rode into the kerb and pedestrians jumped back against the house-fronts for safety; and everyone stared with anger.
The girl in the car sat slumped down on the seat; the pedestrians and bicyclists could only see her hair blowing back like a ragged yellow flag.
The boy, driving, wore dark glasses, a sunburn, a polo shirt and a set expression about the mouth. They passed the painted houses and the genuine Bavarian knick-knack shops, and the car swerved to the right at the end of the town, with a column of dust rising straight behind it. At the station, the boy pulled his brakes and the car stopped, skidding a little, with a sharp, screaming noise. He was out first, running before her to where the slow train for Munich waited. He swung her suit-case to a rack in the third-class carriage, and turned to her. ‘Good-bye,’ he said.
She looked at him and tried to say something. No one in the train spoke. Sun glared on the clean yellow wood benches. ‘Good-bye,’ he said, again.
She closed her eyes so quickly that he wondered later whether she had really done that. He held her arms gently and kissed her on both cheeks. For a moment she leaned against him, and then she stood back as if she had remembered something, and watched him. Something might still happen, something she was waiting for.
The conductor came to close the doors, and the boy jumped from the train and stood on the quai. He waved to her. The train was moving and she ran to a window to see if – though there was no time, now – he would make some sign, whatever sign she needed or wanted. He waved again. She smiled at him, as a child would which has hurt itself, and for one dazed moment is trying to be brave. She turned from the window and crossed the aisle to her own seat, put her hand over her eyes, leaned her head against the window-pane, and wept.
From the archives: Louis Vuitton illustration, 1927