Friday Fiction – Next train in 9 minutes


Village Station

Next train in 9 minutes

The train would be here very soon now and she would be on board.  Laura Pearl, the girl who I grew up with in school, and thinking about it now, I haven’t actually seen in over 35 years.

I’m waiting on this deserted station and I can’t believe just how nervous I am, or is it excitement? I’m really not sure. I haven’t felt quite like this since primary school.

It’s the same feeling I got when Laura, Peter and I would gather together at playtime and just be brimming with nervous excitable energy at being together.

I can remember us in the summer throwing freshly mown grass in the air. All at once I feel incredibly sad. Sad at the time that has passed; sad I can’t go back to that time, sad about Peter and what he had told me before he died.

She sent me a picture so I would recognise her coming off the train. It was hard to process the face in the picture. People often say; “You haven’t changed”, but she had. It wasn’t so much the features or that she had put weight on. It was the smile. In the photo she sent I couldn’t see that insane happiness that I saw every day when I was young. I looked at a photo I’d brought along of when all three of us were young. She was dressed as a Red Indian and Peter and I were dressed as cowboys. She was stood in the middle and had her arms round both of us. Her smile was so joyous, so infectious, actually all our smiles were. We were so happy. It started me smiling and chuckling to myself. I looked around feeling self-conscious, but it was still an empty platform.

Next train in 5 minutes

I’m starting to panic about how I should act when she arrives. Should I behave in a melancholy way out of respect of Peter? Or should I show how happy I was to see her? Would she misconstrue this as distasteful?
I miss Peter so much and I feel so guilty that things didn’t turn out as they should.

When we all moved to secondary school Laura started to find some other girls to hang out with. She would still hang out with me and Peter, but not as much as in primary school.  The longer we were apart the more me and Peter agreed we wanted her around. Then came the point when I told Peter how I was going to go out with her, and that I loved her.
I remember Peter smiling at this when I told him. Although thinking of that smile now, I can see it wasn’t real; it wasn’t even close to the one he wore in the photo I was holding. I think I was too wrapped up in myself to care. God, what a dickhead I was.

I often told her how I felt. She would just laugh at this, but in a way that made me laugh too. I know now the love I had wasn’t the love Peter had for her. She was one of my best friends and I couldn’t separate those feelings properly. She knew how to handle my outpourings of ‘love’ for her whilst keeping us friends.

Next train in 2 minutes

When she moved away from our village with her family to live in France I was sad, but Peter…. I remember Peter not coming out of his house on the weekends or after school for weeks. Even at school he seemed withdrawn, not his normal self.

I went on to love other women and even marry one, for a while anyway. Peter never did. I remember him dating women when we were younger, but I guess none of them ever lived up to Laura.

When he told me in his last days that our friendship meant so much to him that when we were younger he wouldn’t make a move for fear of hurting my feelings, I wept. I resolved to try and find her. I didn’t know if it would do any good, but I wanted her to see him again. I felt like I had cheated them out of true happiness.

My nephew showed me this social media thing and tracked her down, but not in time. I told her about Peter over a fucking email. What is wrong with me?

Next train due

So now here I am with all this guilt and happiness colliding, waiting to see her again.

I hear the screech of the train brakes and look up, it’s arrived.  Only one person is getting off the train, it has to be her right? Who else would want to visit this nowhere village that I never left?

It’s a woman but I can’t tell if it’s her. She looks so classy; she doesn’t fit in with the surroundings at all.

She’s seen me and is walking this way.

My face is blank and my hands are shaking.

Then I see that smile, and without even trying, I’m smiling too.

 

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