Short Story 19: Remember Me
‘Attention all passengers, due to a person on the tracks there will be severe delays to this service.’
Great! All I needed was another delay in my already backlogged life. Did people not consider the rest of humanity before flinging themselves in the path of a speeding train? Not that it couldn’t have been an accident, it was just a bit odd that this was the second time this week the tracks had been closed for the same reason.
I sighed and slumped further into the dark dirty seat, trying hard not to dwell on what I might be sitting on. It was hard not to when you took a look around you and saw the people sitting there with you. There was a teenage girl beside me, who smelt like her shower was calling out to her, and a drooling old man who had been asleep since I got on the train. He had probably missed his stop and nobody cared. Then there was the creepy guy who had been staring at me for ages. I was trying not to notice him but it wasn’t easy. Look away, I willed him in my mind.
‘You don’t remember me do you?’
Now he was talking to me? I had been using the underground for eleven years and the only stranger that had spoken to me had been very, very drunk.
‘Didn’t think so,’ he carried on, dismissing my rude silence. ‘Yesterday at Palmers, we talked for a while.’
No, I yelled in my head, not him again. I had an appointment with the director at Palmers and he had been sitting in the waiting room with me. He had talked non-stop to himself as I nodded out of pity after I realised he wasn’t going anywhere.
‘You remember.’ He read the recognition in my eyes. I could have kicked myself for not hiding my thoughts better. ‘So did you get it?’
‘Whatever it was you were there for? You looked pretty serious in your suit. You had to have been there for a big meeting.’
I decided to try ignoring him again but he wasn’t giving up easily. ‘So where are you off to now? Won’t it be funny if we’re headed for the same place again?’ he laughed at this and I wanted to scream. Okay, his laugh was kind of cute but I wanted him to shut up.
The smelly teen now had her attention totally focused on us. Not only was I trapped in a dingy carriage that was filled with stewing unwashed bodies, I also had to suffer being made a spectacle of by Mr Yakkity-Yak here.
‘Don’t you speak?’
‘Not to you,’ I finally retorted.
He looked pleased that I had replied. ‘That wasn’t so hard, was it?’
‘Look, I don’t mean to sound rude or anything but can you, please, leave me alone? It’s hot and stuffy in here and I am not in the mood to make conversation.’
He looked a bit offended but thankfully he seemed to get the point. ‘Sorry, I just thought it was a bit strange that we met again after yesterday. Don’t you find that a bit…’
‘Freaky?’ our teen eavesdropper finished up for him.
I turned to give her the evil eye before answering. ‘No, and before you say it, I don’t think it’s fate either. All I want right now if for this train to move.’
As if on cue, the train jerked violently, throwing us all forward and then started to move.
‘Wow, why didn’t you say that all along?’ the teenage girl was staring at me like I had just incanted something and released us from our long wait. She probably really believed I did it.
Surprisingly, the rest of the ride went quietly but I got off at the stop before my station, just in case he got any ideas and decided to follow me. He and the teenage girl wove goodbye to me as I left but I didn’t bother returning the gesture. I was too freaked out by the both of them already.
My mobile rang as I stepped out into the street.
‘Hey Laura, can you still make it tonight?’
It was my sister Becky. She was so excited about tonight that it was beginning to rub off on me. Becky had always been the child with loose ends to tie up. She could never keep a job or a boyfriend and spent most of her nights at my place because she had nowhere else to stay. But recently she had met this guy who made her think a bit more seriously about her life. Apart from the fact that they had been going out for the last two months, her landlord hadn’t kicked her out and she actually still kept her job working at the recruitment agency on her street.
I hadn’t met Philip yet but from the changes he had made in her life, I couldn’t wait to meet him.
‘Of course I’m coming, but you won’t believe the day I’ve had…’ and I went on to tell her about my little encounter on the tube.
We were meant to meet up at a new restaurant not too far from where I lived but of course I got delayed again and got there about ten minutes late. I ran into the building and bumped into the first person at the door.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I began to apologise then realised that I was being observed. I looked up at the man I had collided with and gasped. It was the pesky guy from the train but he was all cleaned up and actually looked…nice.
‘You can’t call this coincidence anymore, can you?’
Somehow I recovered in time to say, ‘I’m sorry but I’m running late. Maybe fate will bring us together again next time,’ before dashing off towards a frantically waving Becky.
‘Darling, you look great,’ Becky was her ever-bubbly self. ‘Philip just went over to talk to someone he knows. Look he’s coming back,’ she pointed.
I looked up to see two tall men walking our way. I felt myself go weak at the knees. One of them was my friend from the train.
Becky jumped up before they got to the table and grabbed the red-haired guy, pushing him towards me. ‘Philip, meet my darling sister Laura. Laura, this is Philip.’
I couldn’t even speak. I could only stare in shock at the grinning figure beside him. Philip followed my stunned gaze. ‘Oh, you won’t believe it. This is Chris, my housemate from university who I haven’t seen in years. And get this, he co-owns this place.’
‘Tell me he’s kidding,’ I begged Chris not to confirm what Philip had just said but he shook his head, still grinning.
At first I wasn’t sure what to do but I felt a grin tugging away at the corner of my lips as Chris’s smile broadened. Next thing I knew, we were both laughing out loud, leaving Becky and Philip and everyone else in the restaurant looking at the both of us like we had gone mad. And that was the day I started believing in fate.