3 hours 28 minutes.
That would be the time she was going to have totally to herself, the time the train was scheduled to take from T. to N.
Plenty of time to think, with no-one to interrupt but for the brief moment her ticket would be checked and perhaps someone with a trolley would pass, offering snacks and coffee.
And think she had to.
About the situation and about what she intended to do about it.
She knew it was not going to be easy, whichever direction she was going to take in the future.
A realistic assessment showed only two possible options: Stay or leave.
To stay was eventually going to become unbearable. Actually, it already was unbearable now.
To leave would take a lot of strength and courage, both of which she was not sure she possessed in a big enough measure.
Also, leaving would make her feel terribly guilty and ashamed, and most likely so for a long time.
It would mean to publicly admit failure for the second time in her life.
Whether "the public" was interested or not, was not the point.
But guilty and ashamed she already felt very often anyway, so that was not going to be much news in the emotional department, either.
The self-deceipt she had given up months ago.
Now it was time to stop deceiving others.
Today, she was going to start by telling those she was to meet in N. the truth, about herself and about the situation.
Although she had no idea of what was going to be the outcome of her revelations, she was determined now.
Looking at her watch, she found that there was only little more than half an hour left before the train was due to reach N.
She took her handbag and went to the toilet. Her reflection in the mirror showed an unsmiling face with skin that looked almost grey with exhaustion from lack of sleep and too many worrying thoughts. Briefly, she wondered whether E. and D. would notice how bad things really were from just looking at her, when they would meet her at the train station.
She shrugged at herself, then, as an afterthought, stuck out her tongue at the image of the exhausted face that suddenly showed a hint of the girl she once was, cheeky and fun-loving.
"Maybe we can make you come back," she muttered, closing the toilet door again.
Slowly, she went back to her seat. Some passengers were already getting their things together, forcing her to wait until they had lifted their luggage out of the rack above their heads.
For the last remaining twenty minutes, she leant back against the headrest, eyes closed.
The man in the seat opposite had to look twice over the rim of his magazine, but then he was quite sure: it was a tear that was winding its way down from the corner of her left eye to the delicate line of her jaw.