Newcastle: My Heart In A Hashtag Part 4
Platform 7 at Central Station. A few years ago you could get over there without a ticket. Bloody barriers. Twelve minutes early.
Eleven fifty two.
‘The next train to depart from platform nine is the 14.05 Northern service to Carlisle, calling at Gateshead Metro Centre, Wylam, Prudhoe…’
You’ll be somewhere near Chester-le-Street now: that bit where the train screeches over the bridge above Tesco, Penshaw Monument standing vestigial against a backdrop of thick, North Sea Cumulonimbi.
Ten oh three.
I wonder what you’ll be wearing? Your avatar is a close-up of your eye, so that doesn’t give me much to go on. If I squint I swear I can see the outline of you holding the camera reflected in the flash hovering over your iris.
Must stop looking at the clock.
Birtley dog track; Komatsu; the Angel…
Eight forty four.
The Tyne Bridges; platform 7; me…
Seven fifty eight.
I want to go back, to watch your journey in reverse as you make your way down the ladder of the Pennines. Back in the taxi that took you to the station; back through the flat you left, your keys posted through its locked front door. I want to see what decisions took you here – what unfortunate set of circumstances it takes to send a girl four hundred miles up the country to here, to now, to me.
Five thirty three.
I want to see you grow young; watch you in school, with friends I’ll never know and you’ll never see again. I want to see your Dad hold you on his shoulders; the whole world sucked into that moment – me, eyes cupped in hands, pressed against the glass, peering through the porthole of time.
Four thirty seven.
Check for texts. Nothing. ‘Hi Amy, at station now, waiting by WH Smith. See you soon xx’
‘Train about to pull in, waiting on bridge. What a view! x’
Oh, balls, forgot to brush my teeth. No, it’s alright, don’t be daft, she won’t notice. And anyway, she’s not expecting a kiss. I mean, I’m not even angling for one. Well, I would, but…no, stop it. Stop it.
Something’s just pulled in. Loads coming over the footbridge now. Woman in flowery dress; man with briefcase; woman with Scotty dog; man going double denim (bad shout, mate); woman in stilettos (bit early, like, pet); woman in Geography teacher Mac…
One thirty one.
Is that her by Pumpkin? She definitely looks lost. Idiot: everyone looks lost in a train station.
What if she’s really tall? Fat? (You shallow fool!) A rake?
What if she’s beautiful?
That’s definitely her train pulling in.
What if she hates this? The cold; the back lane walls with their smashed glass set in concrete; the way we stare at the bloody river.
Is there anything more sad than seeing a life unfold in the blank time it takes the digits on a clock face to change?
Can someone be real before you’ve even met them?