She had hoped for a routine commute, but "unscheduled track work" on the Red Line had already trashed that idea. Then the post-holiday rush resulted in a packed Quiet Car and an aisle instead of the right side window. So no picturesque view of the Susquehanna, the Delaware, or the Schuykill. But the biggest blow was her seat mate, who immediately plugged his laptop and his phone into the outlets just as her own phone went into low power mode. She settled in grumpily for the two-hour trip to Trenton.
Suddenly, the duffle bag on the lap of the passenger across the aisle sprouted a large pair of pointed ears and two big round eyes. She smiled, in spite of herself, at the grinning face of a small Boston Terrier.
"Hello!" She said.
The nearby Quiet Car patrons glanced at her disapprovingly.
"Hello", she heard in reply. It seemed to come from the dog.
"Who said that?" She wondered to herself, looking up and down the aisle.
"Hello!" The voice was louder this time, but again only she seemed to hear it. "Or should I say, 'Yip, yip' to get your attention?" She stared at the grinning terrier, who tilted his head and stared right back.
The dog's owner seemed oblivious to the conversation, as did the other passengers.
"Where are you off to today?" The dog asked, licking his flat nose.
"Trenton", she whispered. She wondered if the dog could hear her thoughts, as well. Feeling a bit foolish, she looked at the terrier and thought, "Where are you going?"
"All the way to New Haven". The dog licked his nose again and blinked nervously. "A long time between walkies."
"Walkies? Oh! Walkies! Yes, that must be hard for you."
"You said it. Wanna know how I cope?" She nodded, staring at the dog's earnest face.
"Naps. I sleep all the way." With a blink and a twitch of its ears, the dog tucked himself into the carrier.
Just outside of Philadelphia, she got up and used the restroom. Coming back to her seat. She saw the dog looking at her ruefully, before closing his eyes again.
"Sorry", she said in a low voice. In response, she heard a low groaning sound from the carrier.
At Trenton, she collected her things and headed for the exit, not even looking back.
Sam opened the car door. "Good trip?"
"Just the usual" she lied.