Lacey was cold. She hugged her arms close around herself and shuffled her feet for the hundredth time. She felt the icy morning wind bite viciously in to her cheek as she pulled away loose strands of hair from her hair so she could look, once again, at the screen. Scanning the list on the screen she found her train. ‘On time,’ it stated. ‘Chyeah, as usual,’ Lacey thought sarcastically, twisting her dainty wrist and checking her watch.
The train was almost fifteen minutes late before a loud crackling made her jump. A bored male voice echoed out across the platform from the speaker and announced in a nondescript tone; ‘the train is now approaching platform three, please step way from the platform edge.’ Lacey, being a frequent railway user had already taken three big strides from the side of the tracks and was away from the nugatory, faded line that stretched along the side of the platform.
The train station had an awful lot of cracked old concrete, in a vast array of shades of grey. It was brimming with a silence that was full of emptiness. Looking over the grey platform and over the rusty benches she could see the train approaching, like a great serpent appearing from the shadows. It was gradually blocking out the pink, purple and bright orange sunrise that flooded the area with an eerie glow. The train rattled to a halt with squealing brakes and gave a loud sigh as it rested at the station.
Lacey had a look of relief and anticipation as she pressed the large disc on the train’s side and got on whilst the doors were still opening. Reassuring warmth flowed in her as the doors shut out the winter. The carriage was ordinary; grey-blue floor with stains, generic painted walls the colour of rancid yoghurt, smeared with permanent marker and etchings. Fluorescent strip lighting flickered agitatedly along the greasy ceiling. Lacey took a seat on the sickly red-orange tartan bench seat. It was worn and had been stained and picked at a thousand times or more. She angled herself to look, as she was to onlookers, anonymous and indifferent. She stared vacantly at, but not through, the filthy, scratched window.
She had only two fellow passengers. The first was a big, orbicular lady with a rich mahogany skin tone and raven black hair. She had one earphone plugged in her ear; the other was dangling from the cord. The woman was sleeping, her head titled back and lolling gently as the train chugged along at a steady pace. Every few minutes she would make a gnawing sound, as if she needed to realign her tongue.
The woman was being eyed suspiciously by an ancient man, all grey and withered and hunched. He had the figure of a large willow tree and the charisma of the grass below it. The man was shaking ever so slightly, his stiff knuckles balled in a fist. His jaw was clenched and his milky eyes locked hard in his wretched face. After a short time the train shuddered to a stop and the second passenger rose anxiously. He wobbled his dirty walking stick wildly and struggled to regain his lost balance. He stumbled off, grunting when another passenger clambered on.
This sorry-looking female was in her early twenties and completely caught up in her own world. The girl was wearing fishnet tights that were torn about the knees. She was carrying pair of battered shoes with ridiculously high-heels in one hand and an equally battered mobile phone ion the other. The girl tugged at the skirt stretched across her thighs as she took her place unceremoniously on the creaky seat. There was a faint smell of sweat, make up and cheap, sickly cologne. She had bedraggled hair, and looked as if she hadn’t rested for at least 24 hours. There were stains on her cheeks and clothes, and there was an all together damp look about her. Lacey cast her eyes over this wreck of a girl and was reminded of perfectly sweet Barbie doll. Melted.
Absently Lacey chewed on her nail and watched the scenery out of the window. Narrow back gardens of brick terraces rolled pass. There were generic, patchy lawns strewn with neon toys or a wonky swing or a deserted playhouse. There were other gardens with neat flower beds and pots overflowing with yellow, pink and red flowers-marigolds, pansies and daffodils. Other gardens were significantly less well kept. Some were bordered with brambles. Some full of jungle-like grass and nettles. There were several neatly organised allotments, which still had elaborate spiders web of frost dew over them.
The girl who had got on at the last station was now settled like a traumatized waxwork, her jaw locked with an iron grip and her eyes glassy. Her whole body swayed gently as the train shuddered to a standstill once again.There was a sound like angry kittens fighting which made everyone inside the carriage flinch in unison. It wasn't long before the carriage doors slid open and on came the source of the noise, breaking the tensely-calm atmosphere. Half a dozen people got on, two girls and three boys, and then a very androgynous being. They were all talking very loudly, especially for the time of the day, and excitedly too. It took them at least four minutes for them all to be seated, and even then they were constantly fidgeting.
The group intrigued Lacey and she examined each one closely one by one. The first was a tall girl who looked about 16. She was very thin and elegant, dressed totally in black save patent red shoes and an alien-green bow. The bow was perched in a ridiculous amount of ebony hair that had been meticulously arranged in to a fairly accurate representation of a bird’s nest; where certainly, a small mother bird could hide, along side a fair few of her eggs, with out anyone noticing.
The girl with big hair was chatting animatedly to a boy with only slightly less hair (something along the lines of Jane’s sister said he said she said he said to you that Jane…). This boy looked to be almost a man; he must have been about 16 or 17. He was olive skinned with a dark brown mop of hair and greenish eyes. At first he appeared to be extremely tall, but if discounting the mop above his head and his boots, which gave him an extra few inches of rubber below his feet, he would have been around average height.
The other girl and the androgynous figure between them wore half a shop worth of clothes. These started with the basics, black skinny jeans and T-shirts but then there were the extras; neon socks with oversized trainers -accessorised further with custom laces and sharpi-pen-graffitti. Between the six teenagers there were at least twenty belts, patent and thin, bright and old, studded and stretched-and very few of them doing there job. The androgynous person, who Lacey decide was a very effeminate young man, had several pointless belts and so it could be seen he was sporting boxers that looked like they belonged in a modern art museum, with eye-catching colours and pop images splattered over them. His eyes were brown with neat eyeliner pasted around them and he had a lip piercing where fangs would appear, had he been a vampire.There were two boys who were brothers, quite possibly twins, who even dressed similarly. They had hair that spiked up and outwards and they both walked with the confidence of a celebrity actor.
The chatter within the clique seemed altogether unimportant and shallow, and also, Lacey noticed bitterly, increasing in volume and pitch. Soon the iPods came out, along with speakers, and the carriage was filled with singing and comments on the catchy indie-pop tunes echoing around the confined space. Lacey ignored the racket for a while before it reached a crescendo. The noise would die down before escalating wildly and Lacey was reminded of a buzzing fly. BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ near your face, then it would fly away. Then there is brief relief before it appears again - BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ. It gets left alone and left alone and then stared out and then left alone. Then finally…out comes the newspaper, rolled in to a tight tube gripped in your fist. BUZZ BUZZ SWISH! ‘Dammit! Missed!’ three, two, one BUZZ SWISH-THWACK! And then it’s gone an there’s that tiny bit inside of you longing to hear a frustrating little BUZZ and the air around you appears to move away from you, the killer, just a little bit.
Presently the rolled newspaper was marching up the carriage with a frown plastered on his face. The man seemed to have appeared from nowhere. He was a middle aged balding man with a corduroy suit and leather shoes that thudded on the train floor menacingly. He took a shallow breath, ‘three, two, one’ Lacey counted in her head, the teenage gaggle laughed, BUZZ-SWISH! ‘Excuse me,’ corduroy suit started. The group did not notice him and he put on a face the exact visual representation of ‘Dammit! Missed!’ The man puffed out his chest this tie; ‘excuse me.’ The chattered dies down and old noisy shoes shuffled. ‘Keep the noise down please. It’s too loud,’ a pause ensued without apology or defence came, ‘too loud kids.’ A murmur of ‘yeah, yeah, Sorry’ along with a few, much quieter cusses and curses were uttered.
The carriage was silent save the repetitive engine noise for a while, while noisy boots made his was back to his seat. Then there was subdued chatter and muffled giggling as the teenage group started up again. A loud announcement boomed tin-like over the speakers; ‘This train terminates at the next station. All passengers to depart. Please remember to take all your personal belongings with you.’ Then it beeped off. The train slowed to a halt and heaved a sigh of relief as it settled in its final place. The strip lighting flickered above Lacey’s head as she stood up and walked to the doorway.
Stepping off she looked at the platform, no dissimilar to the platform she had boarded the train at. The difference was the atmosphere. There were lots of people, most looked purposeful or rushed excluding others still ambled along, getting in the way of the majority. The area smelled of petrol and fast food and a vast amount of people. The sun had now fully risen and swamped the exposed parts of the platform with yellow warmth. Lacey smiled to herself as she walked the platform. The day was just beginning.