The train accelerates, leaving the city enveloped in a dense pink hue. The beaten carriages rush towards suburbs, desperate for country air and wide-open spaces.
The tightly wound shoulders of fellow commuters loosen a little with each stop while lowered heads and twitching thumbs search for connection.
Through the graffiti-etched train window, the next station approaches.
As the electronic door opens, a welcome breeze blows my long loose hair out of my face.
A tall guy, in his early twenties, steps aboard and sits opposite me. He drops his bag on the floor between his feet and smiles at the purple-haired lady sitting next to me by the window. As his eyes meet mine, a small dimple appears on his cheek.
The doors close and the train whirs forward.
‘I’m Jack,’ he says.
The woman next to me smiles and looks at her phone.
‘Sophie.’ My cheeks burn and my neckline prickles. I pull a book out my bag and use it to shield me from the flow of energy that’s swirling between us.
Patches of sweat under Jack’s arms, bleed into his light-blue work shirt, and his wristwatch and formal trousers suggest it’s been a long day at the office.
The carriage jolts and I lurch forward.
Jack reaches out. ‘You okay?’
I nod. The train rocks as it speeds up, and the gardens of terraced houses rush by quicker than usual.
The speed of the train is cranked up again and Jack frowns. I glance around the carriage. No one is looking at their phone anymore. Instead, they look at each other with concern.
The next station dashes past and my heart races.
A fierce screeching cuts through the air and bright sparks blaze outside our window.
Jack stands and our carriage tilts.
Under the sound of twisting metal, my scream goes unheard.
The lights go out and I’m slammed against the window.
Pain rages through my head and everything becomes still.
I shift my aching body and blood drips into my eye. The violet-haired lady lies on a bed of shattered glass and holds her arm. Jack lies on his back, unconscious.
I crawl to him and feel for a pulse, but there isn’t one.
I link my hands, start chest compressions, then take a deep breath and blow air into his lungs.
An iciness seeps into my bones, then nothing.
My eyes fix.
I can’t breathe.
I am frozen.
A blackness devours my awareness and I am infinite. I am all.
A blinding light fills the carriage.
I gasp and convulse.
A crushing weight presses against my chest—a body.
I roll it off and catch the icy stare—it’s me!
I sit up and hold out my shaking hands. The blood-stained cuffs of a light-blue shirt reveal the smashed face of a wristwatch I’m wearing.
‘Who am I?’ I choke. My voice is deep and ragged.
The woman who sat next to me winces. ‘You told us your name was…Jack.’
© Michelle Upton