A study with flowers
Heard on the train.
The passion of the lily.
On the train. Crowded. Seat by the window. Next to me a giggling young woman fuelled by the wandering hands of her boyfriend.
Reflected in the glass a dark haired woman sitting across the aisle passing her hands through her short curly locks. She checks her image, meets my gaze, pauses, frozen her and her twinned, then looks away, turns to the child beside her, her daughter I presume.
He – I lived in London a while back.
She – Then you woke up.
He – We all have to. I did have dreams. (mimics a whining voice) I wanted the bright lights, I did, wanted to be a star, red carpet treatment, name up in lights…
She (hitting him on the thigh) – Shut up! Stop it!
He (laughing nervously) – Light Street….Might Street……Night Street.
She (sighing) – James…Let it go…Just so.
The train lights flicker, the carriage darkens. The hiss of the sucking walls outside seeps inside.
Daughter (turning to her mother) – Is this a tunnel, mummy? Why are we going through a tunnel?
Woman – Because we have to get to where we’re going.
Daughter – But why?
Woman – The train would just stop otherwise. It wouldn’t move from here…
Daughter – So we’d never get there then?
Woman – That’s right, (her voice drops, then gently) never get there.
Daughter (standing on the seat as the train exits the tunnel) – Look, there’s daddy’s church! (excited, turning to her mother) Do you think he’ll wave, mummy? Wave mummy! I think he can see us!
Woman – Sit down, darling. The train’s going to stop. There’s going to a bump. You might fall down.
Daughter – Don’t you want to see daddy?
Woman- We have to go now. Come off down from the seat. Let’s go.
Daughter – We haven’t stopped yet, mummy.
(The train stops with a jolt. The doors slide open. The woman gets up, pulls the girl with her. She has a baby pushchair with her – right hand holding the daughter, left the pushchair. She struggles to manoeuvre both off the train. The doors close and she lets out a scream.)
Woman – God! God!
Daughter (tugging at her mother’s hand) – Mummy, I want to see daddy.
Mother (pressing the buttons on the door panel, muttering) – Open, open, damn you. (then to no one in particular) How does this bloody door open?
Daughter – Mummy (whimpering now). Mummy. Let’s go and see daddy. He’ll help.
Mother – Will you stop going on about daddy! (she is crying. She turns to the door) Open, blast you! Open! (the doors open with a loud hiss) Jenny, come on, come on. (she pulls the girl behind her and starts to walk rapidly towards the exit. The pushchair – a passionate wrap of lilies, a card with a child’s drawing of a heart cellotaped to it, hanging from the bar – is still on the train, which begins to move away from the platform gathering speed.)