Train Starts to Move

by Teresa Stenson

You hate people who make huffing sounds in queues. But you just need a coffee. Straight black, no fuss. There should be a separate queue for people like you. And it’s a train station kiosk for heaven’s sake, surely they’re specially trained to make coffee quickly?

Okay. You breathe. And think.

Six minutes until departure. One person in front of you. Everything is okay. It’ll take maybe fifty seconds of light jogging to the platform (but you’ll allow sixty because of heavy bag).

You’ll need to find carriage C, where she’ll be waiting for you. Seats 23 and 24. She has your ticket. You will see her. You’ll probably make a joke about tickets to places, or trains into tunnels. Then you’ll hold her, check you’ve done the right thing.

Back in the queue you might wonder where I am, and if I’ve found the note yet. But then it’s your turn for coffee so you let me go.

You didn’t prepare for a slower jog to hold the hot drink steady. You weave in and out of the crowd – a brush of something familiar; you don’t hesitate. You’re on the train, carriage C, seats 23 and 24, both empty – where is she?

Train doors close, train starts to move, you look to the platform. Eyes meet. I have followed you, and I’m watching you go.

Teresa Stenson has been published in a variety of anthologies and journals both in print and online. You can read more about her and her work at

  1. #1 by Alex on November 7, 2009 - 11:03 pm

    Wow Teresa, that was heartbreaking. How do you always do that?

  2. #2 by Teresa Stenson on November 9, 2009 - 8:26 pm

    Alex, thank you. I don’t know how to answer your question other than say once my heart was broken. (But I didn’t mean to sound so dramatic there.)

  3. #3 by fiona campbell on November 9, 2009 - 11:18 pm

    so clever had to read it three times, loved this!

  4. #4 by Teresa Stenson on November 12, 2009 - 12:37 pm

    Thank you, Fiona!

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