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Trips and Glances

By Leah Gray All Rights Reserved ©

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On the Train

You’re on a train. You know you won’t make it to your next bus on time but still you have some hope. When you get off the train you’ll run up the escalator and cross the road to the bus stop and most likely find the stop devoid of people. But by some chance the bus may be late. The train slows into the station. It stops. You’re on the first carriage but you don’t realise that the train hasn’t gone to the end of the platform. There’s another boy in the carriage and he rises to get off too. The doors don’t open. There’s a button that says press when lit. It’s not lit but you’re both wondering why the doors aren’t opening automatically and he presses it anyway. A couple more presses and you exchange a glance. You try and look through the clear doors to see if anyone else is getting off but no one seems to be.

You don’t know how he guessed it but you hear him mumble something and ask him to repeat. I think someone’s fallen. A thud comes over you. A man on the platform looks in and you see a hand slice across his throat. Then you see the woman. Her body is bent over and when she pulls herself up you see the distraught face. People are around her and you don’t know if they know her but one’s got their arms around her and another’s giving her water.

You exchange some words with the boy about how you wish you could get off. You’ve sat down and you feel yourself shaking. You almost want to cry, but you know you won’t for this stranger. Your mind twists and turns and you pray and beg and hope that somehow they’re alive. The PA crackles and the announcer comes on. Someone has jumped in front of the train. We need to wait for the police to arrive before further action. It’s honest. A few people have moved up into the front of the carriage and are peering out. On the platform the train workers seem to be walking just past your carriage and looking down. They’re under there, they could be under you. You can’t help thinking of a body squished beneath your feet. People who must have been waiting for trains seem to be trying to gain a peek from a distance and you wonder about that morbid fascination. What can they see? But you think you’d rather not look. You shake.

You wonder what other people are thinking, but none appear to be worried. You feel like you shouldn’t feel anything, that the only thing you have a right to feel is annoyance for the delay. You don’t know this person; you have no right to feel pity.

You don’t know how it happened, you can’t even begin to comprehend how, but you hear the words, and they’re alive. You look up, out the window and there’s a woman being held by police. She’s covered in dark shades of dirt but the first thing you notice is how her hair isn’t that messed up. You smile. You smile and look at the boy and you can’t help but mutter that’s amazing. You get up but don’t know why and sit back down and smile and pray that she’ll be alright. She sits rights outside your window and you can look at her easily. You wonder.

The announcer comes back on and you’re being ushered to the front of the train where you go through the controller’s room and onto the platform. Despite the racing thoughts you can’t help but take a glance at the controls and realise you’ve never seen them before. You stop for a moment on the platform and look towards the woman who’s now surrounded. You wonder. The boy has ended up behind you and you have one last mumbled glance with him and then you’re off. Pushing through the crowded, staring platform and down the stairs, where you dip your ticket and stand, unrushed on the escalator. You pray and hope and wonder about strangers and miracles.

Sirens are filling the air and you know where they’re going. And then you smile, and walk slowly to the bus stop where you wait, knowing you never would caught the first one anyway.

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