The day I left home came as a surprise to me. I had gone shopping as usual, parked the car by the railway station and had just put my coins in the parking ticket machine, when a train came in. As I struggled with the machine I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, the people standing on the platform, chatting, staring into space, reading newspapers. Now the train had gone and the platform was empty except for a sole figure standing, as if waiting for someone still to arrive. The figure stood for a moment, looking up the line as the train moved away. It seemed as if they were hoping that someone would appear, leave the train, walk back down the line perhaps and offer a greeting. But of course no one came and the person who was waiting turned and left the platform.
I stood, still watching and waiting. I had a vision of those people who had filled the platform so recently, having been eaten by the train, digested and disgorged at some destination further up the line, far away from here. I saw them still reading their newspapers, or drinking coffee, or staring out of the window or chatting to friends, while silently moving away, up the line and out of reach of this place. I saw myself sitting among them, smartly dressed, briefcase open on the table, reading my notes for a meeting; or looking forward to a shopping trip or a visit to the theatre, going anywhere but here.
I felt in my bag for my purse. I looked out my credit card. I wondered about the cost of a ticket. I pictured myself alighting in the big city, stepping swiftly along the platform, my heels tapping smartly as I walked with assurance towards the exit, looking for the way out. Would the children miss me, I wondered? They hardly seem to notice me now they are growing up. A hasty greeting in the morning as they rush to school; a grumpy nod when they come home, looking for food but too busy with their own lives to sit down and talk to me. They wouldn’t miss me, not until they had to get their own meals. And would he miss me? Probably, but he’d soon get over it. He knows how to use the washing machine. He’ll manage, I thought.
I looked down at what I was wearing. I’d stand out like a sore thumb in the city in my jeans and fleece, but who would notice? I went over to the ticket machine; “out of order”. I looked at the timetable; next train in an hour. I wondered how much was in my bank account. How long would it last in the city? I went up to the ticket office and half-hoped that there would be no one on duty. But there was. She looked up at me, through the strengthened glass and waited expectantly. “A single toLondon, please” I heard my self say. My voice came out of a place I didn’t recognise. Was that really me, asking for a ticket toLondon, I wondered? Still feeling that I was in a dream, I stuffed the ticket into my purse, deep where I couldn’t see it. My purse felt hot in my hand, so I pushed it into my bag. The bag knocked against my thigh as I paced the platform. How long could I wait, I wondered? Eventually people began to arrive on the platform. A crowd milled around me. The train arrived and everyone pushed past me. I stood, sweating, my heart thumping in my chest, my hand gripping my bag.
And the train left. I watched it as it moved smoothly up the line, waiting as if to see myself safely seated in the rear carriage. A silence fell around me. Then a footstep behind me and a voice spoke. “Were you waiting for some one, love?” The porter looked concerned. “Are you are ok?” “Yes, I’m fine, thank you”. No, I’m not waiting for anyone, I thought. I’m just watching myself, leaving home. And it’s comes as quite a shock, really.