I sat on the tram opposite an older woman. Her face was turned to the window and tears streamed silently down her face. I took out my headphones and asked her if she was ok, she just nodded. I smiled at her and put my headphones back in, listening to funny women being clever.
I was sitting directly opposite her but tried not to keep looking directly at her, but because I felt she didn’t want a witness to the still falling tears. She turned back to the window, clutching her carrier a little closer. I could see her wipe at the tears from the corner of my eye, in the reflection of the windows. I wanted to check again whether she needed help but I didn’t want to draw attention to her.
The tram rattled on, halting at each stop, unusual for this time of night. When the woman and I locked eyes briefly we smiled at each other. I looked away and focused on the voices being pumped into my ears.
My stop was announced, I gathered my things, stood and gave her a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and another smile as I headed towards the door. Another year fell and she smiled again wearily, putting her hand over mine. I left the tram, stepping to the pavement and the dark night. After a few seconds the tram rolled past me, the lights inside harsh and garish compared to the muted streetlight ahead of me. She was lit up, once again looking out of the window away from me. The tram sped on, carrying her further into the night and whatever awaited her at home.
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.
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I am multitasking in the quiet coach. The external dvd drive has failed in its main purpose and the stand-up disc lies dormant in the shiny black casing. So instead of watching funny people and quietly chuckling to myself I’m finishing The Metro’s Sudoku, chewing on my pen lid as I try and work out the logical positioning of the numbers – the ‘Easy’ one is always the hardest for me and the one I make most mistakes on as it takes a while for my brain to click back into that form of thinking. Actually I’ve spotted an 8 in the wrong place. Shit. I have also been fixing the track names on my newly installed itunes as I hate it when one album comes up in 7 different parts because of one or to listing errors. I am listening to the revolving selection of tracks from my collection, something from a Now album, then some jazz, musicals, punk, rock… It’s a bit more fun letting it sit on random. Occasionally a song will come on that I think I should add to a playlist. It will be titled ‘Film Soundtrack’ and I will walk around listening to it pretending I’m in a film about my own life. I suspect I’ll find it hard to pick only 15 songs, the sort of standard for an OST.
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