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too early for trains

I know she’s in love with him because she rides her bike past his house everyday.

That’s the long way.

His home is down beside the little creek and old bridge, and that’s nowhere near the train station where she chains her bike from Monday to Friday.

She told me that she hopes she sees him on the train most days too and she tries to appear as if she’s not waiting for anyone but she places her handbag on the seat beside her, for maybe.

Some mornings, she sees him standing on the platform of a station three suburbs away from her own. On the days that he isn’t there, and as the electric people mover slides out on tracks that only face forward, she wonders where he is.

She wonders where he lives.

I wonder why she cares about someone who doesn’t really know she exists. That seems stupid. And it makes her too early for trains.

I asked her why she rides by his house, when the trail through the creek is so much prettier and quicker. And I question whether he’s noticed she’s stalking him. She thinks he hasn’t. She says it’s not stalking.

It’s a free world.

It’s not actually.

Everything costs something.

I learned about prices and tags and not having enough, whether that’s money or looks or cool clothes or love, when I was five and so I know, everything costs something.

I wondered how much she would spend.

Madelaine had been my friend since we lived either side of an old leaning wooden fence. We were then, both fans of rap dancing and Lego. When we turned into two awkward young teens, we never escaped each other because we were always laughing.

That was our glue.

We never really argued or left it too long between jokes.

Madelaine doesn’t laugh when she talks about that guy she’s in love with.

Pfft, love.

She doesn’t even know him.

That guy she’s stalking.

She’s like a train wreck sometimes.

I watch her and know what’s going to happen next and I can’t turn away and I’m tired of warning her and, and, and anyway, she should know that I love her.

It’s more obvious than glimpses stolen through a train carriage window and it’s definitely more important than some guy she keeps never seeing leaving his house, at seven ten in the morning.

And every night, she calls me on the telephone.

I like hearing about her day and what made her laugh most but lately all she ever really talks about is nothing that I ever remember.

We’ve changed.

I don’t catch the train into work and she doesn’t catch my drift.

I’ve fallen in love with her.

She’s falling away from me.

One time, I tried to tell her and I leaned in closer than ever but something felt wrong and she started laughing and I turned red in the face.

Since then, I’ve pretended it was because I was too drunk. Truth is, and Madelaine knows this; I hardly drink more than three glasses.

She hasn’t really showed me that she’d ever think of me as more than a brother-type-best-friend-type-never-got-a-chance-you-idiot, so I’ve just learned to live with it.

And the trains keep running and some days I pray that they’re late, because I know that when his train is late, he changes his mind and gets back in his car and drives to work.

I know this, because one day, I followed Madelaine, whilst she followed him and thankfully neither of them noticed me in a dark beanie, ordinary old black jacket and way too much suspicion in my foot steps, but at least I saw the guy that stole my girl.

And it made it worse.

I don’t want to know about desire.

It’s a bolting train.

It hurtles along all express and en route to destination and when you arrive, you have to turn around at some point, and return again.

I stood on the platform of Madelaine and made a fool of myself for too long.

I know.

I think I missed that train completely.

It’s a bit of a wreck.

I should be thankful for the friendship but the truth is, it hurts more than the crash and I just wish once to board that thing and ride it all the way into town.

I’m willing to take the risk.

If only she were too.

In the mean time, I’ll listen to her desire of a guy who doesn’t care and I’ll look into her eyes whilst she dreams and I’ll feel her there, right in my heart where it costs me things.

She’s worth it.

No matter how many trains she catches.

© ryan

too early for trains

PJ Ryan

Melbourne, Australia

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