I am sitting on the edge of the pavement outside the train station. Next to me, an empty plastic bottle rolls into the gutter, a wasp crawls along the chewing gum stained concrete. Street lights blink into life in the semi-darkness, illuminating the smoke unfurling from the glowing tip of a woman’s cigarette. The pale yellow sun leaks into the grey clouds. On the platform, tired businessmen clutch worn briefcases.
Out of the window of the speeding train everything is dark. A train runs parallel and through the window I can see a man and a woman who have fallen asleep facing each other, their bodies uncomfortably slouched on the rigid seats. It is like looking through a keyhole into a different world I am no part of, or watching a stranger’s life on a television screen.
Sitting on the street again, waiting for another train, soft jazz music floats down from an open window high above me. A child runs laughing into their father’s arms. On the underground I make eye contact with the girl standing at the other end of the almost empty carriage; she smiles, and I smile back.
It’s late at night when I get off the train. The bright white lights of the station make the world around me feel somehow unreal. The air hangs heavy and deep purple around me as I walk home. The cathedral ahead is surrounded by a hazy golden halo, but the tower disappears into the mist. I feel so small, like the fog could swallow me whole.
My footsteps echo in the deserted street and remind me that I am real. I stand on the bridge over the highway and the speeding headlights below make me feel less alone. The air is still warm. Half browned leaves fall prematurely around me. I breathe deeply.