The railway carriage is nearly full. Most seats are taken. Sets of four or six seats, face to face, filled with groups of strangers or friends or both. All have settled to the long journey.
As the train rushes through the suburbs then the countryside life outside passes as a blur – like time rushing past. Nothing we do in the carriage affects its passage.
The members of our group chat, some do a crossword, exchanging ideas for the answers. Some sit quietly and watch the scenery pass by. Yet another reads, apparently oblivious to all else. Yet none of this affects the passage through the land.
One of our group gets up, looks about and walks up the train, out of our carriage. Maybe she moved to the front of the train in preparation for the arrival at the final destination. Her absence is noticeable. The group dynamic that we had established during our journey has been disturbed. The empty seat proclaims its absent owner. Things do not seem right without her.
We still rush though the land as though nothing has happened and yet the journey is no longer the same.
Where is she? Is she in another seat, is she talking with the ticket collector I wonder? Will she come back before we get to the terminus. I doubt that. Will she be there when we all crowd onto the platform, leaving the empty carriage behind, strewn with newspapers and their half finished crosswords? Will I glimpse her amongst the crowds?
I settle back, let my eyelids close and listen to the world passing by and wonder..
Testing what I know will happen I open my eyes, they are drawn to the empty seat. I know that the absence is only a reminder of the memories that I cherish, so I close my eyes, think on those memories, and smile.