It had rained, the wet mud on the roads, the dank smell of gutters, gave evidence of it. Tamara stepped out of the revolving glass doors and flinched at the gust of wind that lashed against her face. Her hair flew over her face and she tied them back severely with a clutch. It had been busy in office. She liked days like these when she couldn’t even look up from her desk top screen. They didn’t given her time to think.
She walked down Eldon street, frowning at the overcast sky. It was 5:25 pm and she followed the herd of smartly dressed sheep heading feverishly towards the station.
She was walking past Krispy Kreme when she felt her mobile vibrate in my pocket. She pulled it out and continued walking. It was a missed call from Ali.
She needed to call him back but first she needed to make another call. She dialled the number.
‘Hi, what time will you be home?’ He sounded in a hurry.
She had now stepped into the main section of the station, flooded by light from the glass ceiling overhead. It always felt surreal. Like a giant conservatory.
‘The usual, you remember the fish you need to pick up for dinner?’
‘Yeah, my mum is coming tomorrow and will stay for a few days.’
‘Great, perfect weekend, I’m getting to the platform, anything else?’ Impatience creeped into her voice. Her mother in laws visits were merry go rounds of sarcasm and thinly veiled insults on housekeeping skills or anything else she could associate with her.
He paused. She could hear his irritated sighing. When had talking become so hard? Correction: Impossible.
‘Fine, see you then.’ He ended their romantic spousal talk.
She heard the line go dead with relief.
The Shenfield train was leaving in six minutes from platform 16. She speed dialled Ali on the way. ‘Hi, you called?’ her voice was warmer, husky with anticipation.
‘I think we should meet right now.’ Bloody enigmatic, as usual. Darker clouds gathered overheard and spread a shadow on her giant conservatory.
‘What do you mean? I’m headed home.’ she stepped aside, close to platform 10, out of the way of the frantic crowd.
‘I mean I need to see you, it’s better if we talk in person.’
‘About what? I’m late already. Can it wait?’
‘No…’ she heard his anguished bark. ‘It’s gone on long enough.’
‘Ok, just tell me now if it’s so urgent.’
‘Gina and I, we met, we are working on our issues. I don’t think we should meet anymore T. I love you, but I can’t live a double life. Maybe it’s best for you too.’
The station felt tipsy. The crowds rushed in on her.
‘Are you still there?’
‘Yes….’ she swallowed hard, finding her voice.
‘I’m sorry.’ He was gone, just like he had entered her life. In a rush.
She turned around and began running towards the metropolitan line. She felt the sharp sting of tears at the back of her eyes. The world was suddenly misty and she almost stumbled down the steps to the Underground. An tall Arab man in a blue jumper, stepped forward. ‘You OK?’ she ignored him and continued forward. She ran to the ticket barriers which had just been closed off. She saw a TFL staff member standing beside the barriers. ‘I need to get in, please.’
‘Sorry, madam, there has been an incident on the tracks.’
‘No, you don’t understand. I have to get home.’ she shouted. Used to raised voices during stressful times, he simply ignored her now as another man questioned him.
The blue of his jumper came into her line of vision again. ‘Tube closed, where you go?’ she realised she was shaking badly and this man was holding her arm, probably afraid she would fall over. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She opened them to find him still in front of her with worried chestnut eyes.
She was about to say something, but suddenly, she realised she didn’t need to worry. She sank down on the steps. She didn’t need to go home. She didn’t have a home anymore. She needed to file divorce papers. There was so much to do. As some trains re-started their routes, she sat staring at the world rush past her to catch the last trains out of the city. She sang an old song softly to herself. The same man was sitting beside her eating a baguette now. She didn’t know how much time had gone by. ‘I hear this song before.’ He gave her a thumbs up. She turned around at him and started laughing hysterically.