I’ve got my red trackie top on and I’m on my way into the station. There are ten minutes until the train leaves and it’s busy. I skipped a lecture to catch this train so it had better be worth it. There’s an autumn chill in the air, which I’m liking. It brings the world to life, in a way, adds newness. It’s sharp and alive and there’s excitement in the air. That’s what I’m feeling right now. I’m looking forward to what the day brings.
I show the guard my ticket and head down to the platform, small holdall in my hand. There are people milling about, waiting. I lean against a pillar and put my hand in my pocket, pushing my other hand through my dirty blonde mop that’s hanging down to my neck. I zip my trackie up to keep out the chill.
A few seconds later, the train pulls in. Everyone moves away from where they were standing, towards the door. I haven’t got a seat reserved so I’ve got to get myself moving. I manage to get to the door behind a middle-aged woman and a man with a briefcase. They get on and I follow. There are seats available and I put my holdall in the overhead compartment and grab a window seat. That’ll do me. I’m in the direction of travel as well, which is what I like.
The train waits a couple of minutes and then it heads off, away from my college town. It starts to move slowly and gradually picks up speed. It isn’t long before we’re in the country. The sun’s coming through the window and I close my eyes to the brightness. It doesn’t last long. The train changes direction and the sun’s behind me or shining elsewhere. I lean my head against the window and watch the green fields of England pass by.
I’m in the mood for some caffeine. It may be early afternoon but a student boy’s lifestyle means it might as well be morning. I get up and wander down to the buffet and buy a coffee in a plastic cup with a lid and head back. I sit down and carefully remove the lid so it doesn’t spill. It’s quite hot so I sip it, put the lid back on, and sit back.
I put my earphones in and play some music, dark and dirty rock and roll. They were playing this in that nightclub, Cinderella’s, on that memorable night in the Summer. I’m thinking back to then, to the last time I was at my current destination, meeting her on the dance floor when this song was playing. There I was, leaning against the pillar, watching her doing her thing. Then she came by and the rest is history.
I smiled to myself. I was only in that town for an old school friend, Brian’s, wedding. And I only ended up in Cinderella’s for somewhere to go after the reception. I never thought I’d be there again. But here I am, heading back only a month into term. I haven’t told Brian I’m going back, there doesn’t seem any point. It would only complicate things, mean I’d be obliged to meet up for a drink when I have other, more alluring games to play.
I smile again, have another sip of my coffee and close my eyes. I drift off and, when I gradually come back to consciousness, see trees passing by and think to myself we’re getting close. I have another drink of my coffee which is now lukewarm. No matter. It’s wet and it has caffeine in it which is all I want.
I wake myself up and head for the gents, lock the door behind me and relieve myself in time for arrival. I wash my face and straighten my trackie and make sure my hair’s doing what it should. Then I go back to my seat and have a couple of polos from the congealed packet I take out of my pocket. I sit and wait while we stop at the penultimate station and pull off again.
It’s not far. It’s already dark by the time we arrive, without me noticing. We slow down and pull into the station and there are people waiting on the platform for the next train and meeting passengers who are home for the weekend. I spot her. She’s leaning against a pillar, looking as good as she did that night in Cinderella’s, her long blonde hair cascading back from her forehead and over her shoulders, in a fluffy pink bomber jacket. She hasn’t seen me yet.
I get up from my seat, take my holdall and wait in the short queue for the train to stop. When it does, the man in front opens the door and we walk out. I get onto the platform and she sees me and smiles. It’s the same smile that greeted me across the dance floor and her big blue eyes are sparkling.
“Hi Matt,” she says, as I walk up to her. “How’s it going?”
“Hi, Kimberley. It’s going well.”
I put my arms round her and pull her towards me, kissing her and it’s long and slow. It’s where we left off in her bedroom a couple of months or so ago. I imagine a lot of water will have passed under the bridge since then but I don’t intend to ask any questions on that score. With a lady like Kimberley, it doesn’t pay to want to be overly intrusive.
“I like this,” she says as we start to walk away from the station, touching my red trackie. It suits you.”
“Can I wear it?”
I smile and look at her.
“Go on then.”
I take it off and she removes her jacket and hands it to me. She puts on my trackie and zips it up. She stands and looks at me and smiles.
“What do you think?”
“I like it. It suits you.”
I do. It does. She stands there, hair hanging long and loose, the red of the top accentuating the blusher on her pale cheeks. I kiss her again.
“Come on,” she says. “Let’s get back to Rebecca’s flat.”
I brace myself for walking with just my white t-shirt to keep out the chill, pick up my holdall and we walk up the street, through town.
“How long’s Rebecca away for?” I ask.
“A few days.”
“It’s good of her to let you use her flat.”
“That’s all right. She often lets me use it when she’s not around.”
“I bet.” I smile.
“I told her you were coming for the weekend.”
“She approved.” She squeezes my arm.
She giggles a little. We carry on, her arm in mine until we get to the top of the high street. We walk up some steps and she opens a door.
“Here we are,” she says.
She lets us in and we walk inside, her shutting the door behind us. I put my holdall down and take her in my arms again.
“Come on,” she says, leading me to the bedroom.
“So how long are you staying for?” she says, lying next to me half an hour later. I have my arm round her shoulders and her hair’s falling across my chest.
“Probably Sunday,” I say. “Or maybe Monday.”
“Maybe.” I laugh, and kiss her forehead. “What’s the odd lecture missed here or there.”
“What indeed? What are you wanting to do later?“
“I don’t mind.”
“We could always go to Cinderella’s.” She laughs.
“Why not, eh? No harm in paying it another visit.”
“It’s still rubbish, though. It hasn’t improved since you were last here.”
“You do surprise me.”
I laugh and take a sip of the hot, sugary coffee that’s sitting on the bedside table next to me. I’m getting myself in the mood for round two of the fun and frolics.
“Anyway, what have you been up to?” she asked, "Since I last saw you."
“This and that. Went home for a bit. Then to Spain on holiday. Then uni.”
“Pretty eventful eh?”
“A bit. It’s been fun. Still is, in fact.”
“I bet you’ve got a few girlfriends at uni.”
I smile. “I can’t imagine what you mean.” I put the cup down and take her in my arms, playfully.
“I bet you’ve got a girl in every port, a boy like you. And I bet you had fun on holiday.”
“I might have.” I smile. Then I kiss her again. We lie there and she puts her arm across my waist.
“I’m not going out with Vince anymore,” she says suddenly.
My mind goes back to the picture of the pretty boy by her bed, to the knock on the door on the Sunday morning which we lay there ignoring until he went away, to me leaving furtively that afternoon.
“No,” she says. “It all came to a head after you’d gone home. Not about you. But it finished.”
There was a lot of trouble about it, actually.”
“I can imagine.”
“It got quite nasty in the end. I ended up in a fight with a girl in Cinderella’s. It was all part of the fallout between Vince and me”
“It’s a long story, Matt. I’ll tell you about it sometime.”
“There are more important things to do right now.”
She’s right on that. I lean forward and our lips meet and the next half hour takes care of itself. I might find myself catching a train and coming over this way a few times over the coming months if things carry on this as they are doing. It’s certainly worth a trip away from the college boy routine. There’s no doubt about it.