Better days

That morning I was on my way back again, after another aborted attempt to give my life a radical new direction. Outside Elephant and Castle I waited with the drunk people of last night's parties for the station to open. Later I was moved to see, in the train going from London Liverpool Street to Harwich, how a mother prepared her children for the journey ahead, straightening collars, tying shoe laces, putting on jackets, all with perfect nervous concentration. But what really caught my eye was a small stain on the sleeve of the pale-green sweater that one of her daughters was wearing. The sleeve was beautifully chewed-down. And as I turned my gaze away towards the fluorescent tubes on the ceiling of the train car, I wasn't entirely sure anymore, for a few brief moments, whether that stain was on her sweater or on mine, and how many years had passed since when. Maybe I'll be sent to school again when I arrive home, I thought, and I won't be allowed to do anything except stare out of the window and wait for better days.

© 2009–2022, Martijn Wallage