The train is full, people standing in the aisles, standing in what the guard insists in his increasingly tetchy announcements is a vestibule. I’d been early, sat at a table, taken out a book, started to read. I leaned against the window, looked out. I used to do that on buses years before. When I went to my granny’s. The engine vibrations felt through your head as it rested on the bus window, and if you closed your mouth together you could make your teeth chatter. Or you could just feel the vibrations through your torso, feel your heart pump, feel the constant shudders, that judder into your arms, giving your fingers pins and needles. It was relaxing on that forty five minute bus trip, a way to occupy yourself when your mum tells you not to read because it will hurt your eyes if you’re holding your book watching the words jump. Yes. Relaxing, lying there, curled in the seat, watching as raindrops trailed down the window, veering at near right angles as the bus went too quickly over a hillock, and your head bounced off the window. Odd, remembering that now. I’ve not thought about it for years. Until I was on the bus with my youngest, and she sat close to the window letting her head rest against the glass, asked her, Do you like it, the feeling? And she nodded and laughed. And lay back against the pane. Yes. Odd. Remembering that. But with the news, this week of news, my head’s there against a window years ago.
And I sit, eyes closed against the pain, head against the glass. I sit.
You sit. Stop. You sit.
Eyes open. The train is busy. I look out, my temple resting against the window. A grey table surface floats over the train line, nail-less fingers rest on it, other fingers flick through the shadow of a book, starting at the back, of course. How it ends. Or begins. Is this how it begins? Five minutes ago, maybe ten, I’d eased my earphones in, switched on the radio. She sat then, plonked herself into the seat, as the newsreader started talking about the election. And as she sat she pushed me nearer the window, my arm pressed against the metal window surround. She didn’t speak, but shuffled in her seat. Every time her thigh touched mine I was moved nearer the window. I tried to move my legs away. But each time I moved she nudged closer. The train wasn’t that full then. It is now. My breathing is shallow.
Get off me.
Will you get off me? Head against the window. Breath. It mists slightly.
You don’t shout. You didn’t shout. Leave me alone.
I don’t shout. I don’t speak.
You don’t cry. He will not see you cry. You will not let him.
The newsreader talks again about the election. She talks about the latest person to come forward, his latest denial.
I want out. Let me out. Will you move? Give me some space.
Silently, think to her: Stop touching me.
You want it to stop.
My cheek is wet.
I am on a train. And it is packed. And I am crying. And the woman next to me stares.