Posted on August 4, 2015August 2, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair8.4.2015 Journal Prompt Photo by Bruce Davidson August 4, 2015: There was always a story. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Been travelling that train for long enough. Sixteen fucking years long. And Leo keeps hisself to hisself, mostly. And he maybe just nods if there’s someone he recognizes and that someone smiles at him across the busy that the train can be.
People come and they go. He wonders now if there’s anyone on the train been there as long as him. He thinks probably not. But then Leo don’t know. And Caroline used to ask him, when he got home at the end of his day, how the train was and he’d say something. Maybe a girl had got the heel of her shoe caught in the floor grating, or a man reading a newspaper had sneezed and caught it in the paper, or a child had stuck its tongue out at him for like two minutes.
Caroline’s gone now. Lots of people gone from his life and his days, but Caroline gone was different. He’d had to take time off his work for the last two weeks and sit in a hospital room holding her hand and watching her thin to nothing and not even breath. After, Caroline’s brother, Frank, came round to help, only Frank was the one as needed the help. They packed up Caroline’s things and put them into the back of Frank’s car to take to the charity. Maybe those bags was still in the back of Frank’s car and that was years back now.
And Leo kept travelling into work on the train and he came home at the end of the day and back to the same house. He boiled an egg or fried up some chicken or fish and he sat at the table by hisself with a cup of strong coffee and he said how the train ride had been and he said this to no one.
And one day there was a woman, and she’d lost her ticket, or said she had. And the guy in the railway uniform was looking at his watch and thinking maybe he should call railway security on this one, and Leo stepped up and paid for her ticket. She was all over grateful and after she looked out for him and she kept a seat for him and she talked all the way there or all the way back.
He was a little uncomfortable with this, and he didn’t tell about it when he was home and eating his dinner and drinking his coffee and sitting alone.
He made a bit more of an effort with his appearance in the morning. He shaved more regularly and took a moment to make sure his hair was just so and he tested his breath, blowing into the cup of one hand and inhaling from the palm. And looking at his reflection caught in windows he passed and thinking he was a fool – an old fool.
And she said her name was Lucy and she kept touching his arm when she talked to him and smiling all the time and playing her fingers through the ends of her hair. He saw grey in her hair, thin silver strands of it.
Then she asked him out. For a drink. And he thought he should have been the one to ask. They went straight from the train and the bar was all corners and shadows and it had been such a long time since he’d done this. He tried to remember how it had been with Caroline all those years back, when he was young and brave – or had Caroline been the brave one? He wasn’t sure.
Lucy drank wine with bubbles in, drinking out of a long stemmed glass. It cost more for that glass than it cost for a bottle, is what he thought. She drank it like it was water and he had to drink fast to keep up.
Afterwards, he walked her home. She said it wasn’t far. He felt foolish and he felt something else. His thoughts ran ahead of where he was and he worried over his breath if he kissed her and what he should do if she asked him in and he thought about what it would be to touch her under her clothes.
At her apartment door she thanked him for the drink and shook his hand. That was it. He smiled and said ok, thinking he must have slipped up somewhere. Then she went inside. He wasn’t sure what he felt then – relieved maybe and lost and a bit foolish – old-fool-foolish.