Saturday 15 June 2019

'Platform 4' by Harriet Rose Stott

She’ll be there, waiting by the exit on Platform 4, like she always is. Through the train-door window I’ll see her red coat leaning against the concrete pillar. We’ll smile and embrace and kiss and walk into the outside brightness and morning freshness, like we do every Saturday. From my worn window-seat, I watch my surroundings stream away. Pebble-dashed, semi-detached houses turn into faded factories with broken windows and dismounted chimneys. I call her. The ringing echoes in my ear endlessly, but it’s Saturday so she’ll be there by the exit. Daylight and fluorescent lighting reflecting in her green-grey eyes.

Our dawn was a coffee shop. She sat with a pristine paperback. Brown hair stroked with gold. I changed my order from paper cup to china mug and took the high-stool next to hers. We chatted flat whites and traybakes and I asked her ‘same time next week?’ We emptied cafés of coffees, drank amber wine, watched plays with purple-caped actors. We watched the dazzle of midday sun turn dusky and decline until the light eased then ended and darkness shrouded the sky. Only the tips of dying silver stars survived. How many unanswered calls? How many times has the ringing echoed? But I know she'll be there, standing by the exit on platform 4, a gust from the door twirling her red coat.

We’ll eat pink tinted ice-creams next to the smudged canal. Take in the exhibition of orange-brushed canvases. Watch the white-tinted teeth of Hollywood. The train enters a tunnel and my head splits. Just my reflection looks back at me through the black window. Sudden light and I am replaced by an earthy embankment topped with empty back yards. We’ll link hands and walk into the vibrant sunshine.

Through the train-door window I see a flash of red by the pillar. But then it blends into blue, green, black as the train slides in and I cannot see through the crowds of colours, but it must be her because it’s Saturday. On the platform I’m surrounded by grey, brown, black. My trudge in the colours is unforgiving and I cannot reach through to the redness. I’m pushed along by the blended brown wave until it releases me at the foot of the pillar. I encircle it, two, three, four times, touching its grey, rough surface. There is no touch of red. No green-grey. No brown-gold. I’m left to fall out of the exit and into the outside whiteness alone.

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