This is the second story in my Fifty Tales of Fiction series, hope you enjoy!
I entered this in Regina West’s Flash Fiction comp and was delighted to be chosen as the winning entry.
Image by Artur84, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Mind the gap!” She said, and I laughed on cue as the train approached the platform. Ten years is a long time to get to know someone, that is if you can ever really claim to know someone utterly.
“That’s me off to work then, have a good day,” she kissed me goodbye.
“Oh and I won’t be back ’til late because it’s deadline day,” she said as she boarded the train, swept along effortlessly by all the other dead-eyed morning commuters.
“Deadline day again?” I shouted to her over the station hub-bub, over the nasal whine of the tannoy which said, “stand clear of the closing doors.”
“I’ll call you at lunchtime!” She replied, then train pulled away, and she was gone.
I left the now silent, empty platform and crossed over to my side of the station, where the Eastbound train would take me in the opposite direction to my girlfriend. I thought about her as I walked, about how she had smelt so new this morning. She had gotten up earlier than usual to wash her hair. When I mentioned this to her, and had reached my hand out to stroke her head she had pulled away.
“Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.” The tannoy said again, to no one in particular. She was no longer here to mock that voice with me and I felt her absence more now than I ever had, any other morning.
How do gaps form between people? I read an article recently about the creation of the universe, there’s a theory that states that our universe might have grown up like a bubble in an older universe. That it might have expanded and blown up inside the host universe until it replaced it completely. Perhaps that might happen to our own universe one day, at least I think that’s what it said.
Maybe that’s what happens between people too, in that gap where one person ends and another begins, a small bubble of resentment, mistrust, or plain apathy is formed, then if it isn’t captured while it’s small, it grows, until it obliterates everything.
Lunchtime came and went, but there was no phone call, several times I went to pick up the phone, but something made me stop, and replace the receiver.
That night I worked late. I stayed until everyone else had gone, and I had to rush to catch the last train home.
As I was standing on the platform staring with glazed eyes at the billboards on the walls, I heard the sound of laughter ring out. I turned my head, there she was.
“I’ll call you tomorrow lunchtime ok?” She was saying to him, before kissing him goodbye in a way she used to kiss me a long time ago.
Suddenly I felt it, our own bubble-universe bursting.
“Mind the gap” the tannoy said, as she turned and saw me, and the train pulled away.