12 Pages

Nana’ om

ByRobert Labelle

I grew up on a train. Not only that, the wrong train. I always thought I should be en route to some proper boys school where Apple Charlotte and crème anglaise are served with tea daily at four. Instead, the lower third of the typical, east-end Montreal triplex I was forced to call home, with its long, narrow hallway and succession of cramped, compartment-like rooms, was a train with no destination. The effect was enhanced on the hour when the real train passed on tracks only a stone’s throw away-a standard unit of measurement in our neighborhood with its broken panes and maimed stray cats. The rumblings were especially effective at night, sending tremors through our metal beds and providing the perfect backdrop to wonderings about how I got where I was and where my real parents were. I pictured tall, well-dressed figures standing beside me in a crowded station, their frosty hair matching silver fox wraps. They had perplexed looks on their faces, their aristocratic bearing making them ill-suited for interpreting destinations and schedules, for sending their child off on the right track.