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So Many Bags

I was panicking. The train was packed and it was hot. Typical. Why would the train have to be packed today of all days? Wasn’t it always the way? The day you really want it to be easy, and it’s difficult. I cursed the weather, cursed the slow train and cursed the stupid fat man opposite me.

As the train jolted into the next station, some nearby teenagers pushed through the standing passengers to get off. “I can’t believe Sarah did that to him”, said the girl with more make up than Madonna, “I mean, why did she?”. Her friend was behind her, a single earphone in one ear whilst talking on her mobile in the other. They got off and were replaced with newspaper bearing commuters juggling laptops and coffee cups.

Why today? I cursed inwardly and counted my bags. Didn’t want to lose any of them and again looked up to check the station order on the map. Mine was the next one. Nerves pricked at my stomach, and I held a number of bags in my right hand. I’d been lucky to get a seat, but felt guilty for taking it. What could I do? I was used to disapproving looks, so made eye contact with no one.

Why are trains always so packed I thought? Why hasn’t the government done something about it? Made the aisles wider? Space for bags bigger. Much bigger? Why do so many people want to go on the train anyway? Why don’t they drive? Or catch a different train to me? I knew it was doing no good but couldn’t help myself. It was just typical. The world was conspiring against me and I was powerless to stop it.

A loud shrieking noise burst through the carriage causing me to jump. As I did so the lady next to me dived into her handbag and her face creased into a smile. “Hi Lisa, I’m on a train.. hello? Can you hear me? Hello? Yes, hi its me.”. It was always the same on the train. It was if to make up for a lack of reception they shout all the louder. “Yes, I’d love to, 8pm? Great – see you then”. They should ban mobiles, and the people who use them.

The train rolled into the next station. I was starting to panic. The train was running ten minutes late, but it wasn’t that that was bothering me. I took a deep breath. There were so many people. Would I be able to make it? My mind rehearsed what I would do, and I counted my bags once again.

The heavily jowled man opposite me stood up, and as if by a secret signal, so did almost half the carriage. Damn. That was just more obstacles in my way. Unforgiving, uncaring and unmoving. Why me? It was just so unfair. My heart was in my mouth. I wasn’t going to be able to do it. I counted my bags again. Too many. I knew there were too many, but what could I do?

As we approached the station I stood up and grabbed all the bags I could. It wasn’t enough and I could feel every set of eyes in the carriage bore into the back of my head. I pretended I didn’t notice and continued staring at the floor. I almost lost my balance as the train juddered to a stop but managed to tense my legs to keep me still.

This was it. I forced my way through the mass of people to the doors. I heard some comments and am sure one lady fell. But I couldn’t stop. I needed to get out. I dropped my bags in a pile next to an official looking man in a uniform. There were so many people. Coming, going. All about their business. Seemingly free to come and go. Why couldn’t they help me? They only had one or two bags. I had hundreds.

I ran back onto the train and forced myself through the new faces. Made my way to my seat and grabbed as many of the remaining bags as possible. I was afraid now. I knew I couldn’t possibly make it. My stomach lurched as I blindly forced me and my bags through a gap. But too late, I heard the doors closing and the felt the train start to judder out of the station.

No! I cried in my heart. No. No. No. No. This can’t be happening to me. Why? Why me? Why doesn’t the train stop for longer? Don’t they understand my needs? Why can’t it be easier? I collapsed into my seat in utter failure, desolation seeping through my veins, giving up that I would ever make it. I wanted to cry for all eternity.

A spotty young man wearing a hoody leaned over and extended his arm down to my side. My heart jumped into my mouth. He picked up a ticket off the edge of my seat and lamely uttered a barely audible apology. A sigh escaped from my pent up emotions and I quickly looked away. I couldn’t take much more of this. My system was in overload.

The youth looked at the woman with a heart full of compassion. He’d not noticed her until he’d dropped his ticket. He was amazed at how many bags there were. They were everywhere. From the way she clucked over them like a mother hen he assumed they must be hers. He could see that any offer of help would push her further over the edge. Instead he offered a prayer.

I could feel the youth’s eyes boring into me and weighed my options. Despair filled my lungs. I looked down once again at my bags. There were just so, so many. Panic caused me to check the train route above my head yet again. Why didn’t they put more stations in? Make it easier for those of us who use the damn things? It would have to be the next station. I grabbed as many bags as I could and risked looking up to plot my escape. My heart sank to new depths as a lady with three young children pulled a suitcase the size of a small car into the aisle. Oh God. Why me?

So Many Bags

Mark Bateman

Joined August 2008

Artist's Description

A tale of humanity – or rather perspective. This poor woman is so concerned about her bags that she has lost sight of living.
I’ve harboured a desire to write for the last couple of years. This has predominantly meant sales proposals and reports. Good though they may have been they don’t really affect people’s lives in any way. So here is my first attempt.
Wasn’t sure how to end it. Hope I did ok.
Comments please! Positive or negative.

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