I stand alone on the platform, waiting. It’s still dark but the first light edges slowly towards the horizon, spreading an explosion of colours existing of dark blue, purple and pink. The air is crispy and when I exhale, I can see my breath escape from my lips. I shiver and stuff my hands deep inside the pockets of my jacket. I’m in my own bubble, my thoughts are my own and the empty space surrounding me is calm and quiet.
A first bird chirps happily, his song carrying fast and far, waking up its neighbour who responses sleepily and slow. A bus arrives on the other side of the railways, releasing a huddle of dark dressed familiar strangers. The echoes of their conversation reach my ears, piercing through my bubble of silence. The rhythmic tick-and-clack noises of high heels touching the concrete fill the air as one after the other passes by to walk to their traditional spot. I recognise the stranger to my right and the one to my left but that’s as far as I know them.
And then it’s quiet again.
Someone coughs in the distance, two friends are laughing and steadily, the platform becomes busier with people arriving and waiting. I glance to my left and lift my eyes to the clock.
The atmosphere changes from calm and quiet to a state of restlessness, more than one pair of eyes taking an expectant glimpse towards the direction of the arriving train. Then, the bells warning crossovers for the nearing vehicle start to chime. In a matter of seconds, the traditionally accepted space to keep away from someone you don’t know, is gone. They start to cluster again and unconsciously, they push one another towards a point that’s not yet been decided on.
The train honks, signaling its arrival to the passengers. My bubble is gone as an arm touches my back and a shoulder brushes against my head. I glare for a moment, a silent back off, because I don’t like being closed in. There’s no sense in pushing anyway, besides getting on the train first.
Something crackles and I look up, the train passing by still fast enough to sweep my hair in all directions. I notice sparks of electricity coming from the high-voltage cables fueling the train. It’s white and blue and when I blink away and close my eyes for a split moment, I can still see them flickering on the other side of my eyelids. I’m being pushed again, rushed towards the opening door.
People pull and push to reach the door faster than their neighbour and I’m dragged along without a choice. They haul themselves onto the train and my foot touches the metal step. A snap of electricity jumps from the train to my hand and I jolt back, far enough to step on someone’s toe. I apologise but the person doesn’t look up, doesn’t care and is only focused on that one seat that’s left empty. I don’t try to get it first, instead I stand in a general area, squeezed between familiar strange bodies.
I fall towards the back when the train pulls off again and I steady myself. I look at the girl in front of me, squeezed between a tall man and woman. She smiles at me sadly and I smile back as we both recognise our daily inconvenience. I look outside the window then and I notice my spot on the platform. Empty now. Waiting for some other stranger to fill.