Posted on March 26, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair3.26.2015 Journal Prompt Image from Better Call Saul March 26, 2015: In spite of everything… Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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The girl at the Station Café is called Tricia. It says so on her apron, and she has it tattooed on her arm, each separate inked letter of her name making a flourish that leaves no room for the name to just be.
She sings when she’s busy and sometimes when she’s not. Songs from the radio mostly she sings, but sometimes church songs, too, or nursery rhymes. Her singing is a sound that he likes to hear.
She is young and yet he has been listening to her now for almost five years. Listening to her feet dancing between the tables as she collects the used plates and the empty cups, and the spoons and the butter knives; listening to her ringing up the price of a cheese scone and a cup of tea with milk and two sugars, thank you, dear; and listening to her singing to no one but herself.
‘Can I get you anything, Saul?’ she calls from behind the counter. ‘A tea or coffee, or hot chocolate with marshmallows.’
Five years and she knows his name by now, but not so well as he thinks he knows hers. He shakes his head. He has no money in his pockets today. It is a Wednesday after all and he rarely has money on a Wednesday.
‘On the house?’ she says.
Tricia, and she knows what’s what by this time and she knows it is Wednesday already and at twelve o’clock she will be half way through her week and she can start to look forward to the weekend. And she knows Saul is broke most Wednesdays and who would bother if she gave him a hot chocolate and did not charge him for it?
Saul says no thank you to the offer of a drink on the house, and he says thank you all the same, and he says Tricia is a sweetheart and a dear, and he makes some small remark on the day and what he says is always different, something he has rehearsed before reaching the café. Today he says the day is bright and bead-bonny and the sky so blue it is far off. What he wants to say is that Tricia is bright and bead-bonny and far off.
Tricia brings him a hot chocolate anyway and a small side-plate with marshmallows arranged on it, pink and white small cushions of sugar. ‘Bead-bonny,’ she says. ‘I like the sound of that.’ She takes one of the marshmallows for herself, takes it between the pinch of finger and thumb and lays it on her tongue. Then she licks the dusty sugar from that pinch. Saul watches the whole performance.
Then she dances her way back behind the counter and resumes her singing, and the sound of her washing the cups and plates and spoons and knives is also a little like listening to music.
Tricia, Saul says under his breath, and he bites into a soft pink marshmallow, feels it give against his teeth, tastes the sugar on his tongue and holds it there, neither chewing nor swallowing, so that the sugar and the name ‘Tricia’ and the sound of her singing is all one.
Wednesday already, and he misses her at the weekend, and he walks the streets then, listening for the sound of a girl singing or feet dancing somewhere or teaspoons clinking against china. And he thinks of things he can say when he is next in the Station Café, things that are really about Tricia though he says they are about the day.
You ever do that? You ever just get on a train and you don’t know where it’s going? And you buy a ticket from the conductor and he says ‘where to?’ and you just shrug and tell him you don’t really know and he charges you something and he says that ticket’ll do wherever you’re going
And you sit watching the world slipping by in a blur, and sometimes the sky is blue and sometimes it is grey and sometimes it is something in between. And a girl in the seat beside you says she is going to see her grandmother and she asks you who you are going to see and you make something up.
You ever do that?
And a woman comes round with a trolley and you buy coffee in a waxed paper cup and it tastes like the best coffee in the world, even though you know it’s cheap grounds. And there’s a shortbread biscuit to go with it, two in a packet, and you offer one to the girl who is going to see her grandmother. And the girl looks at her mammy to see if it is alright to take the biscuit.
And you don’t even glance at your watch the whole journey, not like the other passengers who fear the train may be late and they have people waiting for them at the station and they worry for the trouble they will be to the waiting people. And you don’t look at your watch because it makes no nevermind to you if the train is late or not, because you don’t even know where you’re going.
A train to nowhere, which is always somewhere. And you listen to the announcements over the public address and the man, who is only a voice hanging in the air, gives out a list of place names and you don’t recognize a single one, so you just choose the prettiest, lay it on your tongue, testing it and tasting all its letters. And that’s where you decide to get off.
There’s a café there at the station with the prettiest name and a girl who does not know you from Adam. She has her name printed onto a badge pinned to her apron strap. She’s called Marnie or Shelby or Tania. She offers you tea or coffee or something cold.
Then you just sit in the station café and you listen to all the sounds in that space: the hissing and gurgling of the coffee maker, the girl singing under her breath – in tune or out of tune – the chink-chink of a tea-spoon against the inside of a cup and the scrape of chairs against the tiled floor. Outside there is the sound of traffic, near and far, and a dog barking and someone calling. You don’t go outside though, not even to see what place this is.
You take your time finishing your coffee and you say the girl’s name over and over like a litany prayer – Marnie or Shelby or Tania, like it is something you are trying to remember. Then you get to your feet, collect your bag, and take the train back again.
You ever do that, or something like that? No? I do it all the time. It’s like taking some time out from who you really are. It’s like escaping from everything without really escaping. Yes, I do that all the time. And I never remember the places I’ve been, except for the girls in the cafes there – I never forget them.