It’s such a waste of space, these railway tracks. Toys and models can be aboveground but the real ones should be underground.
Of course, I’m not sure how much difference that would make to me right now. The trains are often late anyway. If it isn’t an ‘accident’ at some crossing, then it’s ‘defective doors’ on one of the carriages. If it isn’t the heat causing power outages, then it’s the rain. I hate these trains.
It’s bucketing today, of all days. I glance at my watch: 13:11… no, 13:12. And the trains are worse than usual today, of all days. I’m gonna be late today, of all days.
Calm down. You’ll get there. And she’ll be there. Well, that’s what I tell myself as rails splitting in all directions, grey skies and rippling streaks on the window fill my field of vision. Oh, and the occasional graffiti by someone with no artistic talent.
I could use a mobile phone right now. I could call or text her and let her know where I am. If only my parents allowed me to have one even if it is an expensive brick.
It’s funny how glazed eyes fix on you when you’re travelling alone in school uniform at this time. No one cares if it’s during the morning or afternoon peak but, at other times, it’s like I’m a rebel, I must be skipping school. Not that I have to explain myself to anyone but I feel like telling them that I finish at lunchtime on Fridays. But I don’t really care about them. I just want to see her and I’m tryin’ to distract myself while I’m waiting in this… this pathetic piece of engineering slowly rumbling in between houses and offices.
I know she’ll wait for me… and she could be late herself. But that’s all beside the point. It’s different today. I glance the watch again: 13:32.
The train creaks up to the platform. The doors open. It’s not my station. Some get off while others get on.
The doors close. The train inches forward as dark clouds, droplets, rails, sleepers and stones move by without blurring.
As the train chugs around a bend, grinding against the rails, I see a black blob up ahead. This is it. My hand is on the handle way before my door even has a platform outside it and my watch reads 13:46.
I rip open the door just as it beeps and I burst out of the carriage. I scan all the faces. Within a minute, most of the people disappear and there’s no sign of her.
As I’m about walk down the ramp just to check, I feel a tap on my shoulder. I barely turn around and her arms are tightly around me.
• • •
The lasagne was nice but I didn’t really enjoy it this time. Now we’re just walking around the block. It’s only drizzling and we don’t mind.
She’s little older than me but we’re at the same year level and, although we’re both relatively young, we’re both decisive. I’ll be attending university here while she’s going overseas for an internship as part of her studies.
She’s telling me how excited she is as she glimpses up at the skyscrapers along this street. I imagine that’s the type of place she will be working at. I know I should be happy for her, that her dreams are coming true for her. She asks me about my dreams. I reply that they aren’t career-based which she knows.
As we make our way back to the train station, I catch her eyes on me. When you know someone well, you can read every nuance: their face, their voice, their touch. But when you haven’t seen them for three months, that ability begins to fade. Still, I can see that she read my mind.
She doesn’t say anything and neither do I as we walk up to the platform. My train is meant to arrive first.
She looks at the tracks, then at me and fixes up my tie – not that it needs fixing. We both let out weak smiles as the drizzling become spattering. Funny how we both know this meeting is meant to be good-bye but neither of us discusses our future, not each other’s respective future but our potential future.
I skim the timetable display in the background. It’s no surprise that this train is more-or-less on time. I think I will always hate the railway and these trains.