Train stations. I never liked them.
I always hated being squashed up against fellow travellers as they rushed to board the train, the incomprehensible noise coming from the intercom and the ear-piercing squeal of the conductor’s whistle.
Yes, I don’t like train stations, and that experience is made a whole lot worse when you realise everything your mother told you about your layabout boyfriend is true.
He stood on the platform as if he were the most important person there. No doubt he was under some sort of delusion that everyone was looking at him. He picked up his guitar case and swung it over his shoulder. “Right, this it, my big break.”
He had been talking about this so called ‘big break’ for weeks. Anyone would think he was off to Wembley but in reality it wasn’t all that impressive.
I sighed to myself. “It’s only the Edinburgh Fringe.”
All this ‘I’m a rock star’ business started only a month previously. When I met him, he had been part of a small band that did nothing more than play in his garage. I would’ve felt sorry for the band members, but I couldn’t remember their names. All that really stood out about them was that their vocabulary never seemed to extend past grunting and swearing.
He had sent various letters to clubs and pubs in that area, in hopes of gaining some sort of ‘recognition.’ A fortnight later he got a response off some backstreet pub that didn’t show up on any Google searches or tourist guides. In short, it was a dodgy dive that was in urgent need of a lick of paint and was no stranger to a drugs raid.
So within the space of two days, he abandoned the other members to pursue his ‘solo career,’ he died his hair jet black, got a lip piercing and insisted upon being referred to as Doctor Darkness.
Just as the train pulled up, he placed on a pair of dark glasses. “Well baby, looks like this could be the last time we meet.”
“Just get on the train.”
“Didn’t you hear me? I’m leaving.” He paused for effect. “Forever.”
What he meant by forever was he would go up to Scotland for a fortnight, play until the festival ended and return home once the money had run out and the novelty had worn off.
I painted on a smile for his benefit. “Oh how will I cope?”
“This is very admirable of you, making this sacrifice for the sake of music.”
Yes that’s correct, he really did say that. A big ego to match his over-gelled hair.
A shrill blow of the conductor’s whistle brought the tedious conversation to a close and signalled that it was time for ‘Doctor Darkness’ to board the train.
He impulsively swooped in and manhandled me into his idea of a passionate kiss. Not as romantic as you might think.
Now don’t get me wrong, about a month ago, I would’ve welcomed that. When we used to kiss, I would be met with the taste of mint from his freshly brushed teeth and the comforting aroma of his apple scented shower gel. Now it was the heavy stench of tobacco and Red Bull.
He left me with the words, “Live long and prosper,” and boarded the train.
In just under a minute the platform cleared, the doors slammed shut and the train made a swift departure.
I spat out the gum that I hadn’t been chewing before he kissed me. “Star Trek reference? That’s very rock and roll.”
“What a fool,” came a male voice behind me. Despite all the commotion of station life, this one voice seemed to take dominance over the others.
I spun around to meet a familiar face. Jacob Jacobs was his name. I have no idea what was going through his parents’ minds when they made that decision. I used to go to school with him and hadn’t seen him in the year since I left. Poor Jacob, he was just one of those unlucky guys. He was shorter than everyone in our year; he had wonky teeth and was one of only three members of the chess club. He tried to be like his older brother who had style and girls falling at his feet but he always failed on his mission.
“Jacob? What are you doing here?”
“I just got back from Oxford.”
His tone was casual. “Where else?”
Once again he took me by surprise. “So, does that mean you’ll go out to dinner with me?”
For a moment I remained still as I pondered his request. I looked him up and down and it was fair to say he had grown a few inches since I saw him last; his teeth had been straightened and he was certainly better dressed. I was tempted by his offer; however, there were still a few hoops he had to jump through first.
“So. Any dreams of becoming a rock star?”
Jacob shrugged, “No, not really.”
“What should I call you?”
He relaxed into a laugh.” None that I know of.”
A look of disbelief spread across his features. Anyone would think I’d just asked him to climb Everest. “Of course not.”
I stepped in closer to Jacob and smelt the freshness of soap and he was no stranger to deodorant. That was enough for me.
I smiled and linked my arm in his. “Let’s go then.”
After all, where’s the harm in playing it safe?