by Kara Rennie
I head for the usual spot on the platform. It’s raining. Umbrellas are clashing and sighs are imminent. There’s nothing more British or required than a passive aggressive tut to really kick start the day. The usual crowd are gathered. Dozens of pairs of soggy feet watching the train pull in. There’s that one commuter I see every day who always gets here first and always gets the good seat. The Best Seat. Look at him! So smug. One day I’ll get there first and really ruin his day. He smiles at me, I smile back. I’m so two-faced.
Boots are slipping on the floor and drops of water from the umbrella in the luggage rack above are landing on my knee. I roll my eyes at the umbrella, and then its owner. He’s asleep. Or he’s pretending to be. I love looking around the carriage, observing how people keep themselves entertained for those 45 minutes into London. Physical books, digital books, music, television, sleep. There are some people that are never doing anything at all and it fascinates me.
I’ve chosen the music option today. A few months ago I couldn’t listen to this album, not because you liked it, you had horrible taste in music, but because I overplayed it that August. But, today I’m listening.
I’m sat nearest the radiator, looking out at the rain. I don’t mind the rain, sometimes. This carriage is so quiet. It’s almost tradition, a British rite of passage, not to talk on public transport. This includes but is not limited to peak-time. The train journey is like the second half of waking up in the morning. At home is where the physical elements of getting ready take place and the train journey is the mentally getting ready part. Unless like me, you’re juggling both parts one and two, at the same time. I’m going through a stage of running for the train most mornings. This is followed by attempting to perfect the ideal winged eyeliner on a fast-moving vehicle without poking yourself in the eye. This usually prompts an audience, intensely staring at you, making bets in their mind on whether you’re a pro or an amateur. Well if you must know, I’m a winged eyeliner connoisseur on most days so stop staring and give me my winnings.
I look around the carriage and pull my headphones out just to acknowledge the quiet. All I can hear is breathing. A tube packed full of breathing machines.
I feel okay today. It took a while but I got there.
It happened. It was only a matter of time, just one of those things. I want to be alone but I also find myself clinging onto anyone who has suffered like I am right now, to anyone who will listen. I’m insufferable. Why am I so poorly made? I’m so far from myself right now and I’m not sure how to get back to me. I’m a much more shameful version of myself. I’ve accepted that sometimes, I may well sob at random times of the day, in public and people will stare. I have to start looking at things robotically – have a clear list on what I need to achieve each day, have distractions. If only it was possible to contain the sadness in a box and push it away. I’m starting to despise my phone. The ultimate torture machine. I should start leaving it at home, really.
The trip we’ve been planning all year is here. We’re on a seven hour train journey. We departed one beautiful city and now we’re onto the next beautiful city. You fall asleep on me and I can’t stop thinking about the obvious excuses that we’re away together. There’s an elephant in the room. The biggest fucking elephant. You would deny it of course but we both know it’s the truth. When we get home, we’ll go our separate ways. We’ve not talked about it since that night but I’ve accepted this decision in my head to prepare me for the worst, but it’s really for the best. A worst-best case scenario. When we get home, we’re breaking up.
I’ve just landed at the airport. I’ve not heard from you. You were supposed to be picking me up, too. I’m starting to become desensitised to your arseholery. You’re not my person anymore. I don’t know who you are.
It’s 5am on a weeknight. You’re driving me home and I can’t bear to look at you. I’m exhausted. You keep looking in my direction and I wish you’d stop. You did this. Surely we should call it quits? Hey, we tried! We’re young! Your laugh is nervous and your smile isn’t convincing. You’re usually such a good liar. You look worried but for once, I don’t care. I need to be alone. Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s a requirement. I tell myself, it’s just one of those things. I’ve accepted that things will never be the same again.
Kara works in the book industry and coincidentally always has her head in a book. She’s a fan of film and television, travel and sampling the very best cakes. She’s forever searching for something. She writes things sometimes.