It was just an ordinary day, however, the train depot was bustling and it wasn't even a holiday. The platform was filling up quickly with passengers bound for Canton. At the terminal in Hong Kong, it always looked like China even before you leave the much westernized city. It was only because the station employees all dressed in uniforms like the soldiers of the People's Republic of China. While the crowd of family and friends milled about, somewhere along the platform, you could hear a child crying as he or she got a smallpox vaccination. Everyone these days must get inoculated before their first trip to the mainland.
On this hot and humid September morning, Meifeng waited anxiously for someone. Every five minutes, she would dabbed at the sweat on her face with a handkerchief. She kept the silk cloth in her hand instead of tucked to the side of her dress.
Just then the public addressed system blared. The broadcast began after the long series of high pitched whistles. Meifeng heard it piped through one of the speaker phones mounted on a pillar right overhead.
"Attention. Attention. The train is now ready for boarding." The female voice repeated this message in Chinese standard twice, followed by the same message in British English.
Meifeng had her eyes closed by now, as a light breeze brushed against her face. She was so mesmerized she did not hear her name being called. She jumped a little at a light tap on her shoulder.
She turned to see Leo proffering a train ticket. He was panting from exertion. She noticed he had stripped down to a plain white shirt and grey slacks. He would have fit right in with the locals if it were not for his towering six feet. His Slavic heritage gave him Turkic features that allow him to pass for a northern Chinese person.
Right now he had a concerned expression. He had been wearing the same face since they arrived in Hong Kong last night. They had barely gotten off their trans-Atlantic flight when they rushed off to the train station to buy a one way ticket to Canton for her.
To save time, he had gone ahead to the depot to book passage for Meifeng while she could get ready for her trip home. He looked at Meifeng now with her form fitting Chinese qipao. When did she find time to change?
He spoke up when he got his wind back.
"Now, are you sure about going by yourself? I could catch up with you on the next train, you know." Meifeng shook her head.
"I will be find. I am just going home after all."
He stared into her eyes with loving ones of his own. Seeing them together, it was a wonder why she had never reciprocated his affections for her. When she had to leave China all those years ago, he was the only one she could rely on to take her far away. She was more than grateful for his kindness.
With one hand on her suitcase, Meifeng pulled Leo into an embrace with her free arm. She could feel his arms wrapping around her middle.
Once they parted, they promptly made their way towards the train hand in hand.
The only other person that occupied Meifeng's mind was her little girl. It was as if Leo was reading her thoughts, for the next thing he said was what she was going to ask him to do.
"Don't worry about Lizzie. I'll take good care of her."
This she knows well. He had been the only father she had known since she was born.
To get to her seat, Meifeng squeezed passed an old woman arguing with a man helping stow her baggage. She heard her instruct him to be careful and not to break anything in her over sized cloth bundle.
She finally settled into a seat with a view of the platform. As the train started to pull away from the station, she watched Leo wave back at her.