Wednesday, 15 February 2012

more short stories

It started happening in August 1993. I was working at an orange juice factory at the time, and this involved getting the 7:32am train from Runcorn West to Ellesmere Port. I first noticed her two weeks into the job. She always stood at the exact same location on the platform, day in and day out. At first I thought nothing of it; she obviously had a job that required getting the same train as me on the same days of the week. Nothing unusual there. But you know when someone piques your interest for no particular reason? It was one of them. I had the desire to approach her and find out her story. But I had to find a way to do it without appearing to be a lunatic. It wasn't sexual attraction. It was deeper than that. It's like when you're on the tenth pint and feel somehow 'bonded' with which ever poor sap you have been wittering at for the last three hours. And anyway, it was getting weird. It's like when you get a lift to a very high floor and there's another occupant in there. The longer you confined together the more tense it feels. Someone needs to say something but nobody does. So one day it happened; I strolled up and asked her for a light. I didn't even smoke at the time, so it's lucky she didn't have one. I asked her where she goes at such an obscene time of the morning, and she replied by telling me that her mother was in the process of being wiped out by head cancer. The visiting hours at Leighton Hospital dictated that an early train was necessary. Naturally, she reciprocated the original question back to me. It seemed feeble to tell her the real reason for my early travels, so in the spirit of trying to impress I told her I was a mortician. Maybe it can be blamed on the dormant parts of the human brain, but this was the wrong thing to say. God only knows why I blabbed it out. I could have told her anything; a milkman, a car salesman, a miner. But no. A mortician. A mortician. I would have loved to have brought some levity to the situation, but small-talk is not my forte. A mortician.

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