Festive greetings everyone, I hope the season has brought it’s fair share of jolliness and goodwill.
As the prospect of another turkey sandwich lurks on the horizon I thought I’d share a dark little tale that was previously published on The Josiah James Flash Project, a site dedicated to Flash Fiction.
Disclaimer- This year Santa has brought me a plethora of gifts and this tale is no reflection of any current trauma I may be experiencing from an excessive chocolate or trifle intake.
All today I spent looking for you, just like yesterday and the day before. Deep beneath the bustle of the train station, I retraced our steps along platforms and tunnels, travelling the route we shared together for nearly a year. If I look closely I can still see the mark your shoulder made against the grime covered wall. I remember how you found time to curse, even as you told me it was my fault.
Leaning over the railings I scan the crowds, hopeful for a flash of red hair, a glimpse of your Korn t shirt, or the clack of your heeled boots on the tiled floor. It’s always the same place that I search for you, here at Victoria. It was the place where I first saw you, months before I mustered enough courage to speak. It was the place that I lost you and hope to find you again.
Once way before we were two, both of us sat next to each other, just by chance drinking coffee. Knees touched under the table as we sat in silence. You were in reach but still I couldn’t find the nerve to talk to you. It took me an age before I faced my fears, although you were never far from my thoughts.
I told people about the woman on the train, way before we spoke, as if our future was predetermined. For the first time in my life I was grounded, calm. I understood my destination and who I’d be travelling with. Even my stuttering tongue behaved as I focused on what was possible. With you I could become the person I wanted to be.
One evening you were late and I panicked, almost leaving the train. But then you were there, squeezing in beside me. The spike of your heel stabbed my foot, but as you apologised, our eyes met and the rest was easy.
We slipped into conversation so naturally it seemed like destiny, even discovering that we lived two streets away from each other. Of course I knew this already but I pretended to be as surprised as you. That evening as we emerged into the bright evenings light, the world was suddenly bright not grey. My heart raced and my hands trembled as I raced up the stairs to my flat.
“Guess who I spoke to today?” I gasped as flopping down onto the sofa.
My flat mate Jenny rolled her eyes.
“Don’t tell me, the girl on the train?”
Smiling broadly at Jenny I laid my head on her shoulder and sighed.
“It was amazing.”
Pushing me off , she sat up, throwing me a serious look.
“You really spoke to her? Finally?”
My phone beeped as I nodded.
“Well done. Bet that’s her now.”
Checking my message I saw the text was indeed from you.
“Hello! Sorry again about your poor foot. I promise to make it up to you. Sxx.”
Showing Jenny the message we laughed and joked, celebrating with a bottle of red.
From there on Sally and I kind of fell together fitting seamlessly as though we had always been. It was a race to see what we could pack in first, trips to the Cotswolds, picnics in the park, sharing books and buying each other clothes. Before we knew it we had met friends and family and were together all the time. It was amazing.
After a few months, Jenny moved out and you moved in, ‘Our place’ we called it.
It was bliss in my eyes and I never realised, anything had changed until you told me. I didn’t notice the late nights or believe there was someone else, but the signs were there, even if I ignored them. Then one night when I followed you and saw the clandestine huddling from the wind, yards from where we stood everyday. You seemed to be melting into his chest as if you were both trying to become one. I longed to confront you, but icy fear gripped my heart and my tongue became thick and swollen, tripping up words so they fell uselessly from my mouth.
It was another two weeks before it all came to a head as we were out shopping for Christmas presents.
I marvelled at how beautiful you were even as you spelled it out for me, my back against the wall, your eyes distant.
You were leaving. Out of town. With him. Even then, I didn’t want believe it and I ran away from the truth, tears streaming down my face. That was the last time I saw you.
I keep coming back here, expecting you to walk straight past me. I imagine you, unchanged. Unlike me. I sit here on the bench nearest the tunnel, the same as I have everyday beneath the map of the underground. A loose corner of a poster on the wall opposite flaps in a rush of stale air as the tannoy sings out the approach of the next train.
Without hesitation, I rise and jump onto the line. Just as I did before. As I do everyday, repeating my past. One day I’ll find you and take you with me. Then we will be together forever, like we should have been.
Happy New Year everyone, look out for more news on The Sundered Path and Mahnstone in 2014.
Neil Sehmbhy is currently obsessed with the book shaped cufflinks he was given at Christmas and eating his weight in chocolate gold coins.
Author of the forthcoming, The Sundered Path and Mahnstone, he has been writing for 14 months. Published in several anthologies and websites he has also been shortlisted in National competitions in his debut year of writing.
Follow him on twitter @neilsehmbhy