Saturday, 10 December 2016
I sat waiting. It had been a very long time. Too long. There was a stench of tobacco and beer that lingered in the cold night air. Yesterday's newspapers brought little warmth to the soul. There was no good news, or so it seemed.
The platform echoed of yester-year. The hard wooden benches had seen weary travelers for decades. Chocolate vending machines still adorned the walls but there was no Cadbury's fruit and nut to be had. It had been eaten long ago. The wooden bridge that allowed passengers to cross to the other side of the tracks echoed with the footsteps of many who had trodden the same path. Those who had felt the same pain of frustration.
The lost baggage area contained an assortment of umbrellas, scarves and hats. Folk had discarded their protection from the elements. Old leather briefcases containing sandwich boxes of now rotten fruit awaited owners who never came. Mysterious packages remained unopened on the shelves. Most people however kept their own baggage close to their chest or strapped to their backs. The weight seemed more of a comfort than an inconvenience.
How much longer?
The night sky was lit with a thousand stars that danced and twinkled enticing the traveller to far distant shores. But no-one was going anywhere tonight. The last train had gone. We continued to wait. Ghosts of the past waited with us. Their heavy chains clanking as they shuffled along in a chain-gang of confusion. Not knowing where to go or what to do for fear of getting it wrong.
Why was I waiting? Should I just be patient or complain to the ticket man? Was my journey so far in vain?
I made myself comfortable as best I could. I wrapped my scarf tighter around my neck and pulled up the collar on my jacket. I felt suffocated but I would survive.
The more the clock ticked the more isolated and alone I felt. Sleep was not my friend. As dawn broke my eventual slumber was disturbed some more. As daylight flooded onto the platform I began to realize I was not alone. There were other fellow travellers caught up in the temporary derailment. As I looked and smiled at them they began to smile back. A few nodded their head in acknowledgement of a shared journey. Tentatively I opened my mouth to wish them a good morning. Soon the silence and fear of the night had vanished as we began to talk and share our stories of travel plans scuppered.
We were all weary. We were all tired of dragging our baggage around for so long.
I suddenly realized I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only one with tales of woe. The derailment had effected us all; in different ways perhaps, but the fatigue and pain was the same and sat etched on all our faces.
What now? How much longer would we have to wait?
An announcement interrupted our chatting. The next train was due shortly. In a flurry of commotion and a lifting of voices spirits began to be restored. The ghosts of the past finally put to bed. Faith sustained and now multiplied. Today was a new day. A new song would be sung.
The journey wasn't over yet....