Spirits:

by | Nov 12, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

The other self dragged him the half mile walk to the metro station. The wet leaves squelched under his feet. This was the other side of autumn. The drab, damp filthy side, where the crisp, rich colours had been ruined by the overnight rain. You have to take the good with the bad, Jim thought, just like now. It was the bad that was in charge. 

Every thick mulchy step was torture but he had to endure it. He couldn’t escape this self, he’d tried many times without success. Briefly, the morning Jim flashed up, clean and optimistic. Only to vanish under the leer of the stronger one. The guilt seared at him as he considered how he would be feeling in a few hours time.

Come on man! What’s the harm? A few beers, the crossword and a natter with the old crowd. He checked the app, two minutes, perfect timing. Today would be good after all. Jim quickened his step and forgot his alter ego. Then it hit him, his card wasn’t topped up. Two minutes suddenly turned into four as he recalled the temperamental ticket machine.

His mind clouded over, as it always did at this time. Nevertheless, he preferred to accept the murky water that invaded his thoughts than question anything. He entered the small shelter that housed the two machines. Damned radgies! A quartet of teens were draped about the place, a menacing troupe of ill fitting designer wear.

Jim took his wallet from his jeans pocket, as he did so, a tight feeling gripped his groin. He felt like an injured rabbit surrounded by hungry vultures. Glancing over at the crowded machine on the other side of the platform, he conceded that other passengers felt as intimidated as he.

He placed the card on the reader, between the spindly, dangling legs of the youth perched on the top of the machine, the immaculate, white Jordans inches from his face. He could smell the newness of the trainers as he tapped the spittle covered screen several times. Eventually technology prevailed and the signal to, present card, popped up, just as the rumble of the approaching train sounded.

He presented his debit card pinched between the tight grip of thumb and forefinger. The beep of acceptance sounded, accompanied by the rattle of the carriage entering the station. Monkey boy snapped his feet together, obscuring the screen and Jim decided to forego the receipt. He slammed his card on the orange reader and turned to see the doors open with the accompanying whine.

Turning on his heels, he sprinted the few yards to the closing doors of the carriage, squeezing through like a sideways limbo dancer. He took a seat in the middle of the car, one of those which faced inwards, towards the identical ones, opposite.

Shit! He’d forgotten the Metro paper and to validate his card! What the fuck was he even doing here? He leaned over, placing his head in his hands, and the cold sweat trickled from his armpits. As his anxiety abated, he looked up to study his fellow sufferers. Unlike him, their journeys were compulsory, to the office, shop or factory. As a result, each face reflected the dread of the day ahead, diverted by ear pods, mobiles or the flimsy free paper Jim had forgotten to pick up. That was, all except one. Like a solitary wild flower in a cemetery, her face stood out against the cold, grey slabs of stone.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Good opening for a story. Metro stations can be intimidating at certain times of the day.

    Reply

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