The train was expected to arrive at 10:32. I found out that there had been major delays all morning so the platform was fairly empty.

Having had an early dental appointment that morning I had luckily missed the mayhem that the delay would have caused so when I arrived at the station it was thankfully quite empty.

Having had time to grab a coffee and a bagel at the station cafe I felt remarkably calm as I stepped aboard and marvelled at the fact I could choose my seat.

I’m not sure how long I had been on the train perhaps 20-minutes. I had finished both my coffee and bagel and I think we had just passed through New Malden when I noticed her.

She was sitting diagonally on the opposite side of the train to me and was staring without seeing at a point somewhere above my head.

The thing I noticed to be strange was that she did not seem to blink, with pupils hugely dilated and a face deathly white, her forehead beaded with sweat.

I looked around and above behind me to see what she was staring at but nothing was there and turning back to look at her she mouthed something at me. There was no sound but she appeared to have said “help me”.

We held each other’s gaze and then once again she, clearly this time, mouthed the words “Help Me”.

I looked around. There was no one else in the carriage.

Suddenly I too had beads of sweat on my forehead and top lip and feeling suddenly uncomfortably hot and slightly nauseous I removed my coat and moved over to sit with this very strange but obviously very scared girl.

“Are you ok”? I asked.

Instinctively I took her hand and was shocked by quite how cold she was considering the sweat. Her pupils were, as I mentioned, dilated but she also had amazing eyes; one very brown and one very blue.

“It was the argument and then losing my job,” she said.

“Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you cannot see how to make things right?” she asked me.

“Have you?” she asked again squeezing my hand so tightly her nails dug into my skin drawing blood.

The driver’s voice came over the tannoy announcing we were arriving at Waterloo.

I decided this girl needed some help having made the assumption that the dilated pupils and sweat had been caused by some drug overdose or abuse.

“Come with me,” I said as the train came to a halt in the station. Grabbing my coat and bag from my seat opposite I guided her by the elbow off the train frantically searching to see if I could see a train guard or a customer service point.

Having spotted someone who could help I sat her down on a bench close by and asked her to wait, reassuring her I would be back.

Before beginning to explain my concerns to the guard I looked back and was touched by the smile she gave me as she watched me from where I had left her but also by her overwhelming look of loss.

Having agreed to come and talk to the girl with me the guard and I turn to walk towards the bench only to see she had gone.

I remember frantically scanning the faces on the platform trying to see her and urging the guard to try and find her such was my concern for her welfare.

Having provided as detailed a description as I could, although apart from her eyes I could remember very little, I was left with no other option but to head to work where my day continued in a blur of concern.

Would she be Ok? Would they find her?

My journey home was not much easier, finding myself unable to stop the constant searching for that, now seemingly familiar face, amongst the sea of anonymity.

Later that evening having showered and eaten I switched over to the local news which I do every night before going to bed.

Delay to the Overground Waterloo train service owing to someone having jumped in front of the 6:30 a.m. train in Reading was what I initially heard, but what made me catch my breath and momentarily feel as though my heart stopped was the picture of the girl who had apparently been the victim of the accident.

A girl whose eyes could not be mistaken.

One brown. One blue.

6:32 train from Reading.

This made no sense.

I looked down at my hand where the nail marks were still visible and once again I’m overwhelmed by a surge of heat and feeling of nausea as I try to make sense of what I had just seen and heard.

This work features in the anthology INS In Lockdown now available from Amazon.

Post Image: Based on an original photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

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