(815 words) Written April 2016
By S.R.A. Markin
I travel through downtown Calgary and up the rails in the S.W. raising in elevation. I look out the window while sitting tightly between two people. The train smells of cheap cologne over body odor and cigarettes.
“Next stop, Sunalta Station,” the intercom announced.
I dislodge from the pressure of the body’s and move through the overcrowded train, making my way to the door. I take a deep breath waiting for the train to stop. I image the train stopping short of the platform and the rails crumbling beneath me.
The door opens, and I walk out. People move past me, bumping me. I look through the crowd. I look for her. She said she would be here at 5:30 PM. What a terrible time to meet in Calgary. The rush-hour disperses, and the platform calms. I stand alone, and then I see her sitting on a bench next to an advertisement. The sign displays a help-line for domestic abuse.
She has baby blue painted toenails and fidgets with a sandal. Her leg vibrates. She sits wearing a beautiful yellow sun-dress looking straight ahead. I am nervous. Her dark hair moves in the light breeze. I approach her.
“Hello,” I said then clearing my throat.
She turns her head and looks at me. “Hi,” she said as if she was out of breath.
“Have you been sitting here for long? I tried to get here early, but you know how bad this city is after work.”
“No. It’s okay. You are on time.”
“Okay,” I said.
She turns her head looking past me exposing a dark side of her face. Purple eye-shadow runs down her cheekbone.
“Is that a bruise?”
She turns her head looking forward then down to her fidgeting feet.
“Yeah,” she said.
I sit next to her as I did four years ago in the summer rain when we first met. Instead of the rain hitting the ground, her tears do. Instead of me putting my arm around her and flirting, I sit quietly with my hands on my lap. Her body is different than before. Her skin glows, and her stomach seems full.
“He hits me,” she said.
I fight the urge to place my arm around her.
“He drinks often and blames me.” Her tears continued to fall.
I look at her leg as the dress sways in the wind, revealing more darkness. She sits folded over, deflated and helpless. I think of us that summer. I recall how she would drain the battery of my cell phone nearly every night. How I could find something witty to say to almost every remark she made. How full of life I was around her. I remember her running into my arms and holding her tightly never wanting to let go.
“I am pregnant,” she said, “And he doesn’t want me to have the child.”
I place my arm around her. She moves her head deep into my armpit, soaking my shirt with tears. I breathe profoundly looking at her.
“The child isn’t his.”
“Does he know that?” I said.
“Then,” I say unprepared to finish my question.
“I am unsure who’s the father,” she said.
Another train makes its way to the station. People pushed out of doors and moved towards the exit and down the stairs.
“I have no one to turn to,” she said.
I think of the last time we spoke to one another two years ago. I closed the apartment door, and waited in the rain for a taxi, listening to her yell from the window above.
My cell phone vibrates in my pocket, and I try to ignore it. I know it is my wife texting me, probably with a grocery list.
“I am your friend.”
“I know,” she said perking up.
I quickly regret my words. She pushes her body in closer and places a hand on my thigh.
“I am married.”
“I know. I was married too when we met,” she said with a laugh.
I do not laugh.
Her ring finger shows a tan line, the same type of tan line I ignored four years ago. I place my hand gently on her bruised face and look into her bloodshot eyes.
“I want to get you help,” I said.
She looks at me and smirks with a youthful, broken expression of lost innocence.
“But, that is all I want to do,” I said. “I have a family whom I love.”
“Well, to hell with you then,” she said and got up. “Why would I have even thought that you would have cared about me. You are the one who left me,” she said yelling while walking away.
She does not look back. I sit on a bench next to the advertisement watching the door close behind her yellow sun-dress. I remember buying her that dress. Another train arrives. I watch the people leave.
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