Go left










































rail crossing

The man stands on the station platform beneath a stainless blue sky. Heat billows off the asphalt. The world is hushed and distant. Nothing breathes, nothing moves. Seconds pass slowly, thick and sluggish like the slow drool of honey off a stick. An old woman dressed in black is using the telephone on the platform. Her voice cuts through the muggy air with painful ease.

‘Are you coming here or staying there or what?’

The man waits, forcing his lungs, his body, to breathe in and out. His head throbs in time with his heartbeat. He is tracing a line, trying to follow a straight course, but his mind keeps wandering off track. He is going to work, going to work, going to work... He must stand here on the platform so that when the train arrives, he is in the right spot to get on the train so that when it stops at the station where he wants to get off, he is in the perfect position to exit the station in the shortest time possible. If the train leaves the station while you’re still on the platform, you’ve lost.

‘Are you coming this morning or this afternoon or what?’

Out on the street, the man crosses from side to side, trying to keep in the shade for as long as possible. You’ve got to stay out of the sun or you’re a dead man. As he approaches the right place to cross, the man adjusts his walking pace so that he reaches the spot at the exact moment when the road is clear to cross. He always crosses at an angle even though this means spending slightly longer in the sun. The diagonal is the shortest distance between two points.

‘Are you staying tonight or going back or what?’

The air inside the glass box is thick and stale. The man wanders about looking for clues as what has happened in his absence; a magazine left open on the counter, a crumpled sweet wrapper, a notebook with biro doodles that look like the design for a tattoo. Somebody has obviously been here but not for a while. The station has been abandoned. The man finds the keys to unlock the pumps and takes a reading from the gauges. There is just enough fuel left in the tanks. Even though it is still early, the man switches on the lights and settles down to wait.

‘Yes,’ says the woman on the telephone, her voice growing ever louder, ‘I’m at the station. You know. Where it all happened.’