~ I originally formatted it better in my word processor, but I’m struggling to replicate it in this post. Many sentences should be indented. Apologies if it isn’t easy on the eyes. I am currently unsure whether this will be a novel or a short story. Title in progress. Feedback welcome. ~
There is nowhere more intriguing to people watch than a train station. Who are they? Why did they come here? Who are they meeting?
I wondered, as I gazed through the window at the world passing by, what you would think of Nathan.
He is the kind of person most people wouldn’t even notice. His thin physique, hidden under shirts that never quite fit him, made him blend into any crowd. He would most likely be keeping his head down, scrolling through his phone, or sitting, watching the same people you would be.
I wonder also what you would think of me. The girl sitting alone on a train, with her head against the window and a glazed look in her eye like her mind was anywhere but here.
A knock from the passenger in the seat next to me brought me back to the carriage and as the familiar walls of the Princes Gardens came into view I knew we were drawing into the station.
A sudden rush of nerves poured over me. I gathered my tickets into my bag and tried to stay calm. The uncertainty and anticipation of this moment made me nervous. I didn’t know what to do next. Once the train doors opened and my ticket was swallowed by the barriers I was lost.
I saw him before he saw me. He was sitting, as I suspected, glancing down at his phone. No expression, simply staring. He looked different than the last time I saw him. His hair was shorter, his clothes smarter and he seemed taller, even when sitting down.
As I walked over, I began to panic. What do I say? Should I be clever? ‘Hey stranger.’ No, that’s ridiculous. ‘Hi?’ Way too casual.
Fortunately for me, he looked up.
He gave me the kind of smile you would give a sibling you had been sent to collect by your mum.
He stood up as I joined him, his smile a little warmer now. He lifted his arms and hugged me. ‘It’s good to see you’ he said.
‘It’s good to see you too.’
For the few brief moments we stood holding each other, I was overcome with sadness. This evening would be exactly what I expected: a painful reminder of the tension and caution that now hung over our every move.
He used to make me feel safe in his arms; like it didn’t matter what was wrong because it couldn’t find me here. Now his arms were simply placed over me and could easily slip away.
‘Shall we go?’ He said as he ushered towards the steps that lead to Market Street and up the cobbled paths to the Royal Mile.
Edinburgh always looked it’s best in the dusk. The walls of the old town seemed to glow when the amber rays hit its weather-beaten stone. The Mile was bustling as always with tourists flowing in and out of restaurants and souvenir gift shops. A few had stopped to watch a busker playing in the shadow of the cathedral. I wanted to join them but thought Nathan may not share my curiosity.
I remembered the last time we were here together. As I was waiting for his tram to arrive, I heard music playing behind me. A young man was sitting on a box across the street with a guitar across his lap, tapping the strings at great speed. He was leant forward, his head down and eyes fixed in concentration.
I found a spot against a fuse box, tucked out of the way of passers-by, where I sat and watched him play. When Nathan arrived, he sat down beside me, and we watched him together.