Returning Home

I found a seat with a table and sat down, guiltless for taking up all four seats; it’s a struggle for me to fit in those without tables because of my giraffe legs. I left my headphones on and opened my book. That’s every journey I take between Canterbury East and Bromley South. No matter how fast the train actually goes it always feels slow. But on that day, the train would not feel slow enough.

Before we’d left the station, a woman with two children – I could already tell they were going to be screamers; could smell it from a mile off – sat opposite me, as if fate had given me something to write about, or, at least, made it harder to write anything. What if she saw my writing? As critically acclaimed as my writing is for its resemblance to a seismometer reading, it’s not entirely unintelligible (and that’s even without the consistent jolting of the train.) It’s times like this I wish I remembered the stick figure language from The Adventures of the Dancing Man.

Fortunately my power of mind control was having a good day. The woman and her two children moved into the next carriage. She could have been nice – not that it stops her kids from being screamers – but I would never know. I will never talk to someone on the train.

The carriage was empty, except for me and the lady on my right. No book. Headphones still on. I was already seeing things I otherwise wouldn’t.

In the glimpses of fields there were no cows with milk souring or curdling in their burdened udders. At the stations and railway crossings there were no pregnant women popping out premature new-borns as the train passed – ahhh GCSE History.

The lady on my right – we had been enjoying our mutual silence very much – alighted at Sittingbourne. I could now check my SnapChat without any awkwardness.

The announcer buzzed something important over the tannoy, but I left my headphones in; as soon as I took them off what he was saying would no longer be important.

Every now and then, the doorbell ring of, “shortly we’ll be arriving at”. All the stations were the same. Muted greys and bruised-blues. Bold navy double-stripes snaking around pillars and along walls.

Suddenly, a gorgeous view. Hello, you. My reflection smiled as we were sucked into a tunnel. Black.

As the train neared home, I tried to lose myself in looking out the window as views slid in and out like projection slides.

A field sunk in large patinas of puddles by a swollen river, surrounded by trees that had forgotten they were supposed to stand, not slouch and lie.

An undefined throng of wimpled clouds cocooned the sky in grey. A low strip on the western horizon oozed red.

Hyphens of rain lashed the windows as thirsty greens and browns blurred past outside.

Scaffolding spilt like drinking straws between lichen-jacketed trees.

River Medway meandered in reflection of the track.

Wire netting clasped uncertain chalk walls.

The next station is Bromley South, scrolled repeatedly above the carriage doors.

It was time. After two long months, it was time. I waited for the train to stop before getting out of my seat.

The train journey was how it should have been. Uneventful.

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