This is a District Line train to Upminster. The next station is Gloucester Road. It was lightly air conditioned and artificially bright. It was early but not rush hour early, a little later than that perhaps. Only a few people stood but every seat was filled, so she stood there with her long, wiry, white hair wisping around her golden-bronze face. She was bent over a little reaching and shaking. It was as though it were winter and she’d forgotten to wear a coat. Most noticeable was her head which was bobbing up-down side-to-side involuntarily. Her lips were thin and cracked and very pink with a brown outline. Pocahontas!
Her hands struggled to find the green pole as the doors closed and the train jilted to commence the journey. She stumbled forward but did not fall. She had grabbed the pole for safety. Eyes were on her from all over and from above. Everyone watched the show of the hundred year old Pocahontas.
I looked away from her to scan my surroundings again. Eyes flitting between the show and the cats. Between the show and the makeup mirrors. Between the show and the Kindles. Everyone hoping that she might not fall, God forbid they delay this train for her sake, but all the same, noone willing to give up their seat.
The next station is Sloane Square. The train stopped. She went chest first into the pole. Someone gasped from the far end of the carriage. The seat behind her became free as a young man got up at the last minute and ran off the train. But before she could notice, for she was soothing her bruise with gentle strokes from her aged brown fingers, another young man jumped in the seat. He quite literally jumped. He had been inches away from her ever since South Kensington, holding onto the same pole she struggled with, never thinking to give her a hand. Thoughtless.
The girl opposite me saw it as well. She tutted, and when I turned to look at her tutting self, she pulled an ugly face as if to say what a shameful thing that was to do. I glared at her, stood up and pulled my whale of an ass over people’s feet to the old Pocahontas. It’s been too long.
“Hi,” I said to her in the softest voice I could conjure up. I was fuming. A single drop of warm water fell from my tear duct and crashed into my hand. I wiped it away. She pulled her arms around the green pole, holding on for dear life as she turned towards me. My legs, as wide as I had positioned them, could no longer support us so I was grabbing for the pole too.
“Hello,” she said to me with a croaky voice.
“Take my seat, please.” I said to her turning to point at the ash-white girl with pink lips sitting prim and proper with her A-line midi covering her knees and her breast bulging up out of the corset she wore with it. She was smiling and fiddling with her almost invisible necklace.
I don’t know where she came from, or how she got to my seat so quickly but I would get her out!
“YOU…” I began, addressing every dumb, ignorant and selfish ear that could hear me. Everyone who was not pregnant, disabled or elderly.
The old Pocahontas rested her paw upon my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it my dear,” she said, “leave them be. They’re not so bad, just preoccupied.” she said. I spun around to look at her again and held the rest of my disgust in my mouth. Once I had swallowed it down again, I felt faint. I pressed my hand into my back and then the train pushed my baby into the pole. Still, noone stood for the old Pocahontas or for me, the child bearing whale. Although her age was well etched into her face and my bulge was bouncing around and bruising, it was not enough for them.
The next station is Victoria, please change here for the Victoria Line, national rail services and Victoria coach station.I found that Pocahontas and I had the same stop. We made it on our feet until Victoria. Although we shouldn’t have. As she stood beside me and we stepped off the train onto the platform, I flooded both of our feet and crashed into my knees. She slipped on my waters and fell to her end in a moment.
It is true what they say. As one life comes into this world, one must go.