Fifteen minutes before her stop she packed away her things, put on her cardigan, coat and scarf and moved to stand in the vestibule. She could feel her cheeks getting redder as she loaded up with her bags, but the blast of cool air was welcoming after the stifling heat of the carriage. She let her over-stuffed over night bag fall against her boots as she stood at the door. She grasped the bars either side of the misted window, their metallic chill passing across her fingers and steadying her from the rocking of the train.
The landscape rolled past, a comforting combination of greens, browns and yellows, spotted with vibrant flashes of orange and red from the changing leaves. She snuggles her nose and mouth into the folds of her scarf and tried to imagine some of the lives contained within the sparsely scattered homes passing by her.
She closed her eyes briefly, feeling the movement of the train beneath her; rushing her through this bleak but beautiful landscape; bringing her ever closer to what was to come.
The train passed through a town. Old brick buildings, allotments, an old and underused cinema faded past its glory. Brambles chased them along the railway embankment, catching discarded papers and bags in their prickly embrace.
Within a minute, the town was gone and she was back gazing at ploughed and turned fields, occasional sheep and cattle. the sky was awash with clouds of blue, grey and white, filtering the light in an array of silvers and pale golds.
She had a headache. There was a threat of a storm rolling from the east. She could see the richer purple grey clouds, marching towards the on-coming train, holding off, ready to burst and spill over the already sodden ground.
Three minutes. Small branch line signs were flashing before her. She couldn’t read them but knew the recitation of station names by heart, despite not having been back for nearly a decade. Her hair was wet on the back of her neck. She had not had time to dry it this morning after the call. the train stopped, waiting for a platform to become clear. The red brick wall alongside the track declared that ‘Gaz luvs Hannah’. Good for Gaz. She glanced down at her feet. Her boots were scuffed and looking over worn. That would be commented upon.
The train jolted forward, other passengers started to join, impatient to get off and onward with their journeys. They pulled up to the platform; the ‘Open Door’ button illuminated, she lifted up her bag, hesitated, pressed the button, stepped off the train, adjusted her coat and walked off towards the storm.