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The Train at Platform One - Part One
The 12.40 from the part of my heart that remained open was on time. The old man inside the dusty old ticket office had informed me of this on the day that my life would irrevocably change…...forever. The friendly, white haired chap with the big whiskery face looked as though, as far as railways were concerned, he knew what he was talking about and I'm sure had been sat behind the grubby glass since the days of steam. This train was never late he had said and it’s passengers were always stepping from the carriages onto platform one to continue a life they thought would never begin. He gave me a knowing half smile and I am sure I saw a sparkle in his eyes. On this, my first day of summer, I waited like I had never waited before. I stood, I sat. I paced, I paused. I checked my watch, I took deep breaths of warm July air. I would wait for another twenty minutes.
The station announcer's voice came over the tannoy system. We were informed that the train just about to arrive at platform one was the 12.30 from Neverending. I was sure the voice must have belonged to the old man behind the screen; it had sounded like the good ‘ole country voice fitted the face I had seen earlier.
As I sat under the cool shade of the canopy I watched the three carriage train slowly come to a halt at the platform. Although I knew this wasn't the train I was waiting for my heart-beat rose considerably. The anticipation was almost overwhelming. Having calmed myself I watched as a half a dozen people stepped from the carriages. Most of them were met by open arms and smiling faces. Gentlemen took suitcases from loved ones and they disappeared back through the ticket office. Others rushed through the same exit looking expectantly to the car park beyond, a couple more waited a while. Some children released themselves from the grip of their father's hands and ran over to a woman who was obviously their mother. A number of new passengers boarded and minutes later there was a whistle from the end of the platform and the train gradually pulled away. I rose from the seat and strolled to the platform’s edge and watched the train disappear into the distance, around a bend and out of sight. I turned to retake my seat and realised I was the only person left on platform one. My side of this quaint station suddenly felt like a ghost station; quiet, calm, a summer breeze wafting along, bringing with it some discarded tickets and sweet wrappers. As I sat and waited, I thought. A vulnerability began to creep into my being. My blood felt cold. I felt very alone as I looked across the double track railway to the other platform. Every seat was taken. Nobody stood. Lifeless bodies just sat, waited, no talking, no movement of heads or limbs. All just appeared to be staring in my direction.
Seven minutes to go. I felt intoxicated, my head was starting to swim, my eyelids became heavy. On closing them I must have drifted into an instant dream.
I was stood at the end of platform two in bright, sweltering sunlight wearing dark, plastic framed sunglasses. I looked to the far end of the platform. Every seat was occupied by people wearing the same style of glasses as mine. There must have been at least twenty to thirty of them. I couldn't tell whether they were men or women but all sat bolt upright with hands placed firmly on their thighs facing the opposite platform. As I walked in front of them, observing each as I passed, none were disturbed by my presence. Not a flinch, twitch or murmur. They were all dressed exactly the same way, skin guarded against the searing heat. In fact I realised they were all identical. I felt unnerved by them, who were they? What did they want and why was I here? All the seat spaces were taken by these clones. I eventually reached the other end of the station. I did an about turn to look back in the direction from which I had just walked. Every bespectacled head was facing me. It felt as though the unseen eyes were peering deeply into the depths of my soul. I sensed them attempting to share my moment, my emotions, my life.......past, present and future. But I didn't want them inside of me. This was my time. They were trespassing and I was disturbed by their violations. They were to leave. Whoever they were, I didn't want them residing in my head, my heart or soul. I slumped to my knees and shouted at the top of my voice, 'leave me you empty ones, the future is mine and mine alone. Mine to share with whom I choose. Go now, leave me alone!' I closed my eyes as tears trickled from beneath my glasses and down my cheeks. My head bowed, sagged in distress.
I felt lighter, as if I might float away with the breeze. My body was beginning to feel my own again. I looked up and the empty ones were not staring at me any longer. They were all looking towards platform one; all were pointing towards it with a raised right arm. I turned to look in the direction they were gesturing. I was shocked and confused. A lone person sat staring in my direction. I walked to the edge of platform two straining to make this person out. The lonely one stood and moved to the edge of platform one. Across the track our eyes met and held. I was looking at myself, at what might have been a reflection of my life. I was staring into my own dark and troubled soul. The eyes of my reflection closed. Mine closed also. All went dark.