Staring Out of a Train Window While No One Waves Goodbye

My eyes are burning, it’s far too early to be out of bed.

My fingers freeze, my gloves are in the boot of your car, forgotten in a rush for the platform.

It rained, it’s sunny, it’s foggy. It could be a force gale and I would still be standing here alone.

You, heading North. Me, South.

We both have things to do, lives to live. I must be independent now, as much as being an adult scares me.

I want to hang onto sleep just that little bit longer.

The waft of a cooked breakfast – and the ensuing smoke alarms – streaming through the house all weekend.

Cling to the dream of warmth and purring kittens, the clanging pipe in the bathroom, and the creaking floorboards in a house almost a century old.

*

I push inside, jostling for a seat with a window.

My hands burn. And so do my eyes and nose. And this time not from the cold.

The first time I was driven away I wept silently in the back of the carriage, knowing that even two weeks was far too long without you.

You stood waving at the platform. I tried not to cry before we were pulled away.

Now it’s six weeks, four months, a year tabled away. Two hundred miles. We’re barely apart. But it feels alone.

I can hold the tears in a bit longer now, figured out how to hide it behind a book or the daily crossword in the paper.

*

I sleep for a bit, if I can. You message me during the journey.

Stuck in Traffic. You doing okay? x

The man in the grey suit pretends to not see me wipe my soaking phone on my jeans.

Fine, I text back. Can’t wait to head back.

*

An hour, then two.

And slowly I feel okay. Somewhat adult.

Still human, still burning at the sinuses, but functioning, now.

We’re getting there at least.

As your messages slow, your wheels speeding and emails arriving thick and fast, others burst to life.

Troops emerged from their hangovers, crawling into the sunlight drawn by wafts of life and promises of warmth.

The train slows. My bags are heavy.

But the platform is busy, busier than it was when I left.

And there are people there, waiting for me.

A stream of texts crying out I can see you! or Which platform was it again? barrel through the connection.

Nobody waved goodbye but there’s plenty of people I’ve seen waving hello.

Image courtesy of Tim Foster.

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