Ready for your weekly early smile? Yeah? Then grab some coffee and join Mary & Lex in the train to Washington DC…
Have a great day,
Lex felt heat crawl up her neck. “Yeah.”
“As in the Greek Elektra? Or the comic book villain?”
“The original Greek mythological character,” Lex sighed.
She hadn’t wanted to tell Mary her real first name. But Mary kept asking the weirdest questions. Like ‘Is Lex short for something?’ Lex appreciated the effort to break the ice but would have preferred to talk about work.
“That’s interesting,” Mary continued, managing to keep her voice more or less neutral.
Lex caught a glimpse of her own hair in the window. She ran her hand through it out of habit.
“Why did your parents name you that?” Mary asked. Lex should have known she wouldn’t let this go.
“Gosh,” she replied, her tone light, “You sure are the curious type, aren’t you?”
Mary lifted her shoulders, smiling. “I guess I am.”
Lex glanced around the train. The toilet sign above the door of their carriage had switched on.
“My dad picked the name,” she explained. “He likes the mythological character.”
Mary’s eyes widened. “He wanted to name his daughter after a crazy woman?!”
Lex chuckled at Mary’s honest surprise. “Yeah, I guess he did.”
“Sorry,” Mary said, shaking her head, “I know I’m repeating myself, but … Why?!”
The train slowed down a little. It was easier to study the row of houses next to the track. Lex couldn’t imagine living in one of them. So noisy and so crowded. Plus, everyone on the train could see into your backyard!
Mary cleared her throat, a subtle way to probe Lex for an answer, Lex was sure.
“He likes Elektra because of her obsession to avenge her father’s murder,” she explained. Her hands were getting clammy.
“Really?” Mary shrieked, then pressed her lips together, as if she realized she had let the words slip out.
“Yup,” Lex answered, nodding gravely. She didn’t like to talk about her dad’s weird taste in stories. She crossed her arms and hoped they could move on to another topic.
But Mary kept going. “Who killed him?” she asked, fidgeting with the label of her winter coat, that was draped over her legs.
“Who killed who?” Lex asked, her eyes drifting to Mary’s long fingers.
“Elektra’s father. Who killed him?”
“Oh,” Lex muttered. “Her mother and her lover.”
Mary’s jaw dropped. Lex wanted the ground to swallow her whole. How could she make this conversation end?
“Didn’t your mother object?!” Mary asked in a high pitch. She leaned closer and placed her elbows on her knees. Her hazel eyes stared up at Lex with so much honest curiosity, Lex felt compelled to answer.
“She hated it, of course.”
“Why didn’t she pick a different name then?” Mary asked, blinking.
Lex felt a familiar sting in her chest and looked down at her hands. She hated thinking or talking about her mother.
“That’s just the way things are in my family, okay?” she sighed and pressed her lips together in a thin smile.
Mary narrowed her eyes but didn’t say anything. After a few moments, she straightened and got comfortable in her chair. Her eyes focused on the window and the landscape that flew by behind it.
Lex wondered if she had sounded a little too harsh. She didn’t want to go back to tense silence. They had finally managed polite conversation without getting into an argument. She rubbed her cheek nervously.
Her voice was soft when she spoke. “My mom started calling me Lex. Or Lexie, actually.”
Mary turned her head slowly, her eyes twinkling. “Lex- ie?”
Lex just nodded.
“Okay then,” Mary said, her lips curving up into a triumphant smile. “Lexie.”
“No one else is allowed to call me that,” Lex blurted out.
Mary just smiled again, stretched her legs out in front of her and focused back on the window. There were no more houses outside. Vast stretches of land, most of it muddy and bare, provided a somewhat depressing view.
Lex shut her eyes, retreating back into herself. She doubted she would be able to nap in the train, despite being tired. She had a hard time falling asleep in her own bed, let alone on a train with Mary sitting across from her.
She reflected on their day together instead. Apologizing was way out of het comfort zone. But she was relieved she had done it. Mary had opened up a lot more afterward.
Things finally seemed to be heading in the right direction between them. Lex wasn’t thrilled about having to attend a conference she was far from interested in, but maybe her cousin Hannah had been right to send them on a trip together.
In an hour or so, they would arrive in Washington and make their way to the hotel. It would be the middle of the afternoon by then and there would be plenty of time to unpack before dinner.
“An early night is just what I need,” Lex thought. She purposefully stopped herself from thinking about dinner too much. Picturing herself in a restaurant with Mary Alexander made her too uncomfortable.
Who knew what other questions Mary would ask?