In 1976, memories from a night near the railroad tracks sixteen years earlier haunt Barbara Parker. She wrestles with past demons every night, then wakes to the train's five-thirty whistle. Exhausted and dreading the day, she keeps her hands busy working in Bryson City's textile plant, known as the "blue jean plant," all the while worrying about her teenage daughter, Carole Anne. The whistle of the train, the hum of those machines, and the struggle to survive drives Barbara. When an unexpected layoff creates a financial emergency, the desperate pressure of poverty is overwhelming.
Unbeknownst to Barbara, Carole Anne sneaks out at night to walk the tracks so she can work at Hubert's Bar. She's hoarding money with plans to drive her mother's rusty, unused Oldsmobile out of Bryson City, and never return. She only needs one opportunity ... if she can just find it.
When Carole Anne goes missing, Barbara finds herself at a crossroad--she must put aside old memories and past hurts to rely on a classmate for help finding her daughter. But this is the same man she blames for the incident years ago. Is she strong enough--or desperate enough--to do anything to keep her daughter safe?
In Outbound Train, the Parker women struggle to make frayed ends meet in a town where they never quite do ... at least, not without expert weaving and a bit of brute force.