Nancy’s job as a ticket inspector had its moments, few and far between, but it had them. For the last 2 years on a Monday to Friday evening the young blonde girl had sat in seat 20 of carriage B of the 19:52 train. Always seat 20, always carriage B and always the 19:52. Nancy had even seen her board the train via a different carriage then aisle surf through to carriage B and seat 20.
She was always alone and always reading a book when Nancy reached her to clip her ticket. The only words Nancy had heard her say was a shy ‘thank you’ as she returned the girl’s ticket. Never had Nancy seen her even look at a mobile phone. She must have had one, of course, she looked professional and all professional young women have mobile phones, don’t they? As far as Nancy knew the girl never engaged in conversations with other passengers.
She seemed so lonely. No one ever met her at the station, she just alighted from the train and walked out the station entrance disappearing into the night. Nancy often wondered did she go home to family or housemates, or did the lonely girl live alone.
Tonight was different. Nancy had not seen her board the train but when she got to carriage B she looked at seat 20. Sure, enough there she was sat in seat 20 but she wasn’t reading a book. Instead, she was talking to someone in the next seat. Nancy could just see over the headrests as a dark-haired person nodded in response to something the girl had said.
Nancy called out for tickets, and absent-mindedly clipped away at the pieces of card. Her attention on the young girl. Every few clips she would draw closer and she heard the girl laugh. She called ‘tickets please’ as she drew up to seat 20. The dark-haired man dropped the girl’s hand so they could get their tickets. And Nancy smiled.
Later, as she stood in the doorway of carriage C, Nancy watched the couple depart, the young man draping his arm over the girl’s shoulder as they left the station into the night.
©JG Farmer 2018