Crossed Lines (flash)
I looked for you again today. Deep beneath the bustle of Victoria station, I retraced our steps along tunnels and platforms, following the route we took alone, then together, every day for a year. I searched for fingerprints on the wall you leaned against while you told me it was over, that you loved somebody else. I scanned the crowds, waiting for a glimpse of denim, a familiar shirt sleeve, or the notes of a tune you hummed without realising.
This is where we met; on the eastbound platform of the Circle Line. I noticed you months before we spoke and I sensed you also noticed me. I began to tell people about the man on the train, as if our future had been predetermined. And I was calm, possibly for the first time in my life. At last I understood where I was going and who would be travelling with me.
One morning you were late and I panicked. I almost got off the train but suddenly you were there, squeezing in beside me. You stepped on my foot and apologised. I smiled and you smiled back.
The rest was easy. We discovered we were in the same business and worked a hundred yards from each other. Emerging into the bright sunshine at Blackfriars, we turned into the same street and you left me, trembling, at the door to my office.
I hared up the stairs.
“Guess who spoke to me this morning,” I gasped.
My boss, Jane, rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me it was the man on the train?”
My phone rang as I nodded.
Jane winked. “That’ll be him now.”
I picked up the receiver and it was.
“Hello,” you said. “It’s the man on the train.”
Everything fitted. You met my family and friends and they loved you too. We talked about sharing a flat and I had no doubts because you had been there all my life, waiting for the perfect moment.
I never realised that anything had changed until you told me so. I believed there was no one else for either of us and ignored the signs that only half of this was true.
You had to spell it out for me in the end, my back against the tiles, your eyes kind but distant. You were moving away, you said. Out of town. With her. Even then, I didn’t really believe it.
That was the last time I saw you until today. You walked straight past me, here, on the eastbound platform of the Circle Line. You hadn’t changed a bit. Not the way I had.
I sat on the bench nearest the tunnel as I have every day since you left me, staring at a curved advert for insurance on the opposite wall. A loose corner flapped in a rush of stale air as the rails sang the approach of the next train. And, without hesitation, I rose and jumped onto the line. Just as I did before.
Crossed Lines won third place in Flash500 third quarter 2012.