I’m holding onto my coffee. Breathe. Breathe. It’s a reusable cup. I’m doing the right thing, saving our planet. The Dairy Grind cafe advertise their little logo of eco friendly and sustainable coffee harvesting. We are supporting local farmers in some country. Small communities. The milk is local, so they say. Just me and my coffee.
There’s a train coming. I missed my last train, so I’m completely out of my comfort zone. I don’t know what the schedule is, but I do know it’s stopping at my station. The display board says so. It’s slowly coming a stop.
I’ve only have to stand behind the yellow line and I can alight the carriage, but how? Where do I sit? These aren’t my people, my community of travellers. They aren’t my village. Am I intruding?
The carriage door blankly faces me. The deafening warning tone of the door lock release alarm my senses. I find my finger pressing the button to open the doors. With a swish, they open. It’s quiet onboard. Deafeningly quiet.
There are lots and lots of empty seats. I freeze. There’s a woman in the seat, where is usually sit on my train. I turn, there are five empty seats in the six seater. A man wearing headphones looks up from his screen and looks at me. Someone else coughs. I quickly sit down.
There’s a man sitting in the two seater I’m sitting in. His shirt blends in with the colour of the seat fabric. ‘I didn’t see you’, I think to myself. I’ve made my decision. I pull down the tray-table, placing my coffee cup on it. My handbag becomes squashed on my lap. I fidget. I realign my weight. I fidget. The man next to me does nothing. No reaction. I look over, he is squashed in the corner.
I look back to my coffee cup. I move my arm, but my forearm is touching his. Why did I move my arm? It wasn’t offending anyone? I have to get out of here. The man next to me does nothing. He stares out the window. I’m staring at his wild eyebrows. His nostrils expand and contract, can he smell something I can’t?
I remove my coffee cup from the tray-table, return the tray back to its position, lock it back in place, take hold of my handbag and stand.
There are more empty seats further into the carriage. I move past a woman, her shoulder peeking out from her seat. How can I manoeuvre past without touching her? I spy another seat before her. I sit down.
I sit down with a sigh or frustration and relief. I hear a, “haaaaa” exhale from my lips. The man next to me imitates my “haaaaa”. Surreptitiously, I glance sideways, but he isn’t facing my direction. Just like the other man, he looks out the window. Was there an echo in the carriage? I have to move.
The crackled announcement over the PA tells me the train is approaching my stop. “Haaaaa”, I say to myself. Again, I hear the echo.
Standing by the carriage door, and as the alarm sounds to warn of the opening doors, I press the release button and make my uncomfortable escape.