35 Minutes

The lines etch across her face. Pigmentation marks and old acne scars. A tiny lump of skin rests high above her cheekbone. Annoying, my eyes are drawn there and I cannot look away. It’s ugly but captivating. The Lord Jesus is present. The face crinkled and faint on the hand of an old lady. Is God on the other I wonder?

Old and weary, deep lines tell a million stories. Is that an old scar from a husband, a former lover, a fall down a staircase? She likes the drink. I can tell. A bird nests itself on the corner of each eye. Five lines bury into lips. She likes the cigarettes too.

The boy, drinking a can of coke at 8.45am. I see a bottle in the bag. Save for later. I think he must enjoy it warm. What will he have for lunch I wonder?  I bet there is no apple in that bag he carries. Bad parents.

A cigarette smoker sits behind me. Fresh from a smoke, the smell draws over me. I want to hurl. I look around at the jaundice fingernails. A smoker since 12, I guess.

I see a pile of fat, taking three seats. Eyes flitter, unsure of where to rest. Pretending not to hear the snores and notice the dribble down his mouth, people keep their distance. Has he ever been laid I wonder? Has his manhood ever been touched by a woman? I have visions. I stop.

The girl in the uniform. A purple bruise on her cheek. Is that from her mum or dad? A bully at school? A leg is shaking, she looks like she’s about to pee. Is she really going to? She gets off. No puddle on the floor.

Young lovers in the corner. Locking lips, marks on their neck. Is that love? They look 14.

A woman standing announces to her friend she is pregnant. I see a bump now. I would offer her a seat but I’m too lazy. I want to read my book.

A man seated next to me reading the newspaper. Words catch my eye. He turns the page. Damn it. I liked reading about the boy with “Werewolf” Syndrome.

Next stop. I get off.

Eight hours later.

I get on. A new journey commences…..

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~ by Shae on August 30, 2010.

4 Responses to “35 Minutes”

  1. I think everyone that takes public can relate to you on this Shae. I enjoy reading pieces that I don’t get immediately because it’s so much more alluring and satisfying when it finally clicks; ‘I get on. A new journey commences…..’ oh the TRAIN! The description you give is so intense that I found myself seeing the people I saw on the tram this morning again and wondering what their stories were. I have to admit that I am guilty of ‘not seeing’ someone who could have needed a seat but I was just so tired that I hid myself in my book…oops. I also enjoyed the thought behind the young lovers…

    That brought me to : WHAT is love? Is it different for everyone? Can it be measured? Does it have to be tangible? –something to think about…

  2. Very human observations Shae – (although I remember when you used to smoke!). Having travelled the train in Melbourne for six months a couple of years ago, I can definitely recall similar thoughts, where we use our own life experiences to map the perceived life styles and emotions of others. It can certainly get confusing! I must say I liked Joelle’s cross reference to love – isn’t it amazing the differences in what we expect love to be. Many times I have seen one partner crooning all over their ‘loved one’ – only to be treated with complete public deference – how do these people act in private – is it different?
    As for the young lovers – well – I think we were all once in the position where public ‘displays of affection’ were like a badge of honour……..either that or th e earlyseeds of exhibitionism! Keep up the good work!!!!

  3. Ha Ha – I don’t think I blew too many of your secrets! Afer reading your post, I was racking my brain trying to work out what made your style so appealing to me – have you ever read anything by Gordon Stevens? Excellent thriller writer from the 1990’s. You have a similar detached 1st person style that creates expectation and holds attention. In short – I generally have a zero tolerance for thriller authors – Stevens, however is an exception solely because of his writing style. Assuming that you have never read his works (not many have), take encouragement in the fact that you have a natural writing style that sets you apart from ‘the herd’. If you have, then your own intepretation is still admirable. I would like to see more of your work. Enough ego inflation for today!

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