She was sitting on the upper level of the train. He couldn’t see her face from where he was standing but he could see that her hair was auburn colored.
It was enough. He was in love.
It was easy and pleasurable to imagine meeting her in the city after work. He would take her to Dymocks and she would rest her head on his shoulder as he introduced her to his very best friends: Scott Fitzgerald and George Orwell.
It was Thursday, so they would stay out later than usual and have dinner. They would most likely go to the Thai place he really liked. He was convinced she would like it, too.
The train pulled into Central and he knew he had to step off of the train and out of her life. He did, and the day that followed was cloudy and overcast with regret. He spent the train ride home wondering why he wasn’t meeting her in the city. Why had he not introduced himself to the love of his life?
He made macaroni and cheese for dinner and went to bed early. Heartbreak dulled his senses enough that he fell into a deep sleep.
He tried not to think of her as he stepped onto the train the next morning. The carriage was crowded. The scene was the same.
He could see a girl sitting on the upper level of the train. He couldn’t see her face from where he was standing but he could see that her hair was strawberry colored.
It was enough. He was in love.
His only thoughts were about the cool metal of this pistol and how good Kristie looks in jeans. The two thoughts stirred different yet equally dangerous feelings within him.
The signal changes but I’m not on board. The train moves ever forward but I remain standing. At the end of the line friends will meet at a cafe and enjoy the breeze that always rolls through the suburb at four o’clock but the air here is still. They will reminisce about other afternoons spent in the breeze but I cannot participate.
I am nostalgic for a place I have never been.
She had only noticed how little light there was inside the car when two headlights appeared down the road and illuminated the entire front seat. Stray beams of light made it all the way to where she was strapped into the back seat.
“Look at this clown,” her dad said. She looked around but didn’t see any clowns. Surely all the clowns were still back at the fair.
Grace had never driven a car or paid much attention to the motion of cars other than the ones being confidently coaxed along by her father. For this reason the headlights of the oncoming car didn’t appear left of centre and even if they had it wouldn’t have struck her as odd.
“Honey!” came a shrill scream that could only belong to her mother but it was hard to tell over the terrible shriek of rubber grinding on wet asphalt.
The beams of light that had found their way to the back seat now ran away in an unnatural manner and there was a long moment of calm that Grace would never be able to forget. It was a calm that spanned generations and transcended all linear perceptions of time. It was a black hole of silence and still that absorbed all energy before regurgitating it back in the form of a loud percussive smashing thud on the side of the car.
The whole car lurched sideways and Grace became aware that the tires were no longer humming on the road. All momentum pulled her body to the left and then she felt the same weightlessness she had experienced on the swinging pirate ship earlier in the afternoon after her second orange soda. Her third orange soda was splashing in her face but she didn’t know why.
She felt her weight pulling on her seatbelt as the can of soda slipped from her grip. The entire car groaned. She could see a tree out the windshield but it was upside down and that didn’t make sense to her.
After the sight of the tree there was only dark.
It wasn’t so much a jump that was required – more of a slip. A fall, really. A perfectly timed fall and he would be on the tracks just as the train pulled into the station.
He could think of a dozen reasons to execute such a manoeuvre. Yet she was the only reason that had him testing the traction of his shoes on the edge of the platform.