It’s a Monday morning, and despite this being the first work day since the clocks went back, and therefore brighter than last week, everyone at the station is pissed off. I have a dread about me. Another weekend has passed me by. The week is ahead and soon the train will arrive. For the rest of the week, I’ll be a passenger.
I fail to grab my usual seat and am forced to sit on the other side of the carriage door facing the other way. I’ll never break my Brick Breaker high score looking this direction so I take out my book; Theft by Peter Carey.
The train departs and by the third stop the carriage is almost full. A woman has sat opposite me. Early forties, attractive with short black hair, she’s wearing a black dress, with a black jacket and a red scarf. She’s also wearing black tights that are semi see through, a small birthmark above her knee is visible. She is reading the Daily Mail.
I go back to my book. Peter Carey is probably my favourite writer.
The woman gets a phone call. It’s not yet quarter past seven so it must be important business or something gone wrong with the family. She answers a quick hello, listens for a bit and says, with an absence of emotion, why? A moment later she presses the red button and puts the phone back in her bag.
She returns to her paper. I try to get back to Mr Carey but the tension that’s coming off this woman has me mesmerised, who was on the phone?!
As the train pulls in to another station I notice on her paper the headline ‘CAN WE EVER TRUST THE FRENCH’. Fucking Daily Mail I think. My interest in her gone, I adjust and get comfortable for the last ten minutes of the journey.
The carriage is full now and the beeps are beeping, just before the doors close, a young woman runs onboard, apologises to the men she bashes on the way in and finds a corner to stand in, right next to the tense lady and in my eye line.
She is a fat young girl. I wouldn’t say very fat but she’s definitely chunky, she has glasses, a young white face and red cheeks from dashing to the train. Her hair is still damp, her clothes a little ruffled, her coat untied. She’s slept late and needs a coffee.
She finally relaxes and begins to read her Metro. She looks pleasant and happy to have made her train. She doesn’t look great though it has to be said. Between our new arrival and my glimpse of the French headline I have almost forgotten about the tense lady but she’s still on my radar and still looks stern.
She shifts in her seat. Maybe coughs. Her face is bitten. She looks up at the pleasant girl. Looks again. Catches her attention. Her face changes. I realise what she’s doing. Don’t, I think, but it’s too late.
“Seat?” the older woman having a bad day says to the girl who made her train.
The colour goes from pleasant girls face. Her face drops but she maintains eye contact and tamely refuses.
I see beneath her coat as she attempts to cover herself. She’s wearing a tight fitting blue dress and I can see the bulge of a belly. Not a great choice of outfit but does she look pregnant? No way.
The tense lady settles back into her seat and paper. I look at her, it's like nothing has happened. Behind her the young girl has forgotten her paper and is subtly clawing at her clothes with the limited space and free hands she has.
More people board the train and she moves further down the carriage, beyond my seat and out of my line of vision. I turn around and catch her surveying her mid-section and looking distressed. The week hasn’t even started.
The shuffling begins and soon I’m off the train and on my way, hoping both their days improve and promising myself I’ll have a salad for lunch.