Sunday, 5 June 2016

Flash Fiction - Walking

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just didn't stop.

Standing here with my forehead pressed against the glass I wonder what would happen if the doors opened and I didn't get off, didn't go home, have my dinner, sink into the sofa, drag my lazy arse into bed, set the alarm to go through the whole rigmarole again tomorrow.
What if I stepped back, away from the doors, let the train pull my weary carcass the wrong way out of the station and north.
Not that you can go that far north. It's not that big an island. But that doesn't really matter. It's not about that. It's about what would happen if I got off where the train stopped and just kept walking.
I used to hand out catalogues in Amsterdam station; when you looked at the destinations scrolling up the board you couldn't escape the fact that you were at one edge of a continent. One train to Moscow, one more train to Vladivostok and you've crossed half the globe.
This train terminates in Middlesbrough. It's not quite the same. In fact it's a shithole. But you probably know that already.
We're not even moving. Waiting for a platform to become available apparently. Eleven bloody platforms at that station and I bet there's not ten other trains there when we get in.
What would happen if I got off in Middlesbrough and kept walking. Just kept going until I disappeared. Can you even disappear in this country? There's CCTV everywhere but it would take a while to find me on the cameras. They wouldn't be looking for me on Teeside. And in Leeds I'd be just another knackered, middle-aged office worker shuffling through the daily routine, one of thousands going through the grey commute. Tens of thousands maybe?
There must be some pretty empty areas of Northumbria where a man could disappear? Just walk out onto the moors, dig a hole, make a shelter, steal a sheep.
I've not even got a coat with me. I'd be dead in a week.
Maybe I should head south?
Pack a few different things in the rucksack tomorrow morning, head to the station as usual, then London, the south coast, a ferry, and then start walking?
Harder to find.
And it would mean I wasn't so tired I'm falling asleep standing up.
Empty the bank account.
Keep to the back roads and minor rail lines.
Head south, France, then Spain. I bet you can disappear there. No job. No rent. No jammed in like sardines for two hours a day in an overheated cigar tin. No fighting your way through the barriers because the machines don't work properly. No performance appraisals. No stretch targets. No desperate clinging on.
Just walk away.
Walk away.
And we're moving again.
Back into the station. Back into the routine. The rut. What did Nick say? "The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth."
Walk away.
Just walk away.


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