Trains

I managed only to brush past the closing doors of the train at Sheffield station. I didn’t have time to look back onto the platform, I was too consumed by checking that my hands were clasped around the correct bag. Lilac and denim, with turquoise straps, just like they said.

I entered the carriage to my right whilst the train began to thrust forwards. The first step of many was done, now all I had to figure out was where to sit. On my own would look strange, yet not nearly as strange as it would’ve been to sit next to that uptight old woman, or that guy eating a box of fried chicken. I sat next to a small girl around my age, dressed in an oversized coat that looked like a network of old blankets.

I quickly rummaged around my pocket for my headphones and began to unravel. It was only then that I recognised she was crying. Perhaps if it was stifled or silent I wouldn’t have realised, but these were fat, burning tears, the kind a person sees a handful of times in their life. It reminded me of the day I came home from a school trip and my mum told me that Grandpa Bill passed away, I missed the funeral yesterday. You’re not supposed to tell your kids that a relative passed away if they’re on a school trip, it would ruin the teachers’ holiday.

Maybe I should have asked her if she was okay or placed a hand on her shoulder, but I thought better than to involve myself in her mess, especially when I had my own mess contained in a small lilac bag on my lap. I decided to slide it down under my right foot, in between myself and this girl. I wasn’t the kind of guy to walk around with such a feminine bag and didn’t want to draw unwanted attention.

The girl shuffled towards me in her seat and I thought that she was going to rest her head on my right shoulder for a moment. I wouldn’t have flinched at all, I probably would’ve appreciated some company, however she stopped a few inches short, tilted her head back and stared at the train ceiling with stale tears lingering on her puffed-out cheeks.

“Let me see your tickets”, asked the ticketman, who appeared from out of nowhere.

I panicked, thought was it too late to dash to the loo, claim I had something bad to eat? But I couldn’t leave the package and I couldn’t take it with me. Too suspicious.

The girl glanced back at him and seemed to push a flood of tears out from her dainty eyelids, “Can’t you see we’re in the middle of an argument? This is hardly the time and place for tickets. Why won’t anyone give me a break?”

He looked like he was about to answer back, he glanced between myself and the girl until she pushed up her bottom lip like a cartoon character. “Ummm… I…” and then continued his walk down the train.

“I know you don’t have a ticket, you look dodgy as fuck, and didn’t even check if I was alright. I don’t care, I just thought it was about time that I put some good karma out there in the world,” she said to me.

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