Monday - 06:14am to the City

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Shannen checked her watch as she approached the station and didn't quite break into a run, but picked up her pace so that it would not be much of a stretch if she chose to. The 6:14 was due in less than a minute, and she hadn't bought a ticket yet. Silently and without breaking pace, she sent up a prayer to whoever was listening: for once, make sure that train runs late. As she approached the car park she saw a dark-haired woman getting out of a late model silver sedan, apparently humming to herself. Shannen saw her most mornings, knew she got off the train at Central, and had marvelled at how happy she always seemed to be. Shannen saw her every morning, nodded and smiled every morning, noticed when she had washed her hair, knew what different outfits she owned, yet did not know her name. Shannen had often pondered the senseless cocoon that people routinely tried to wrap themselves in on public transport, but she did not have the time for such deep thoughts this morning - if she missed this train she would be late for work at the supermarket for the third time this week, and she would be damned if she would lose a perfectly good job because she was hanging around a train station philosophising.

Shannen brushed past the other woman as she closed the car door and locked it, and on a whim, decided to head through the long grass and up to the station, rather than going the long way around to the overpass. She knew she would be able to pick up some more speed running along the empty outbound platform than she could across the rough and broken footpath. She took two steps into the long grass, and was preparing to vault through the narrow gap beside the fence up on to the platform, when something buried in the grass caught the toe of her shoe and tangled in her ankles. Shannen cried out and fell hard on the still slightly dewy ground, and felt her knee land on a strange, unnatural bulge in the ground. Looking down, almost dreamlike, she saw a blanket lying in the grass, covered with filth and for a moment could not fathom what it might mean. Time, which had previously been racing, now slowed and seemed almost to stop, as her gaze traversed the length of the blanket-covered object and finally alighted upon a bare, pink, human toe. Shannen had time to analyse the nicely cut toe nail, the pink, sparkly polish that had started to wear along the cut edge, and finally her voice caught up to her vision, and she began to scream.


Elouise grabbed her bag off the passenger seat, got out of the car and turned to close the door and lock it. As she did, a young brunette woman dashed past her, in an obvious hurry. Elouise checked her watch and realised the train was due any minute. She wasn't overly concerned, the only reason she took the early train was so that she could spend more time with Zach, who she knew would be waiting for her at Central, but she had no intention of raising a sweat and breaking a heel to catch it - there would another along in fifteen minutes, and she certainly did not want to look a wreck for Zach.

Humming tuneless nonsense to herself, she turned away from the dashing woman, locked the car, and began to walk up the footpath that led to the pedestrian overpass. She was in too good a mood to worry about the broken pieces in the concrete, simply stepping over the potholes, taking the opportunity to admire her new shoes as she did so. They were a grey fabric, with lovely black patent toes and a ridiculously high heel. She had spent way too much money on them, imagining what Zach might think of her purchase as she handed over the credit card that was in her husband's name. Rob had not noticed that she had new shoes, but then she had not expected him to.

Eloise was just completing her crossing of the overpass as the train came to a clanking, brake-squealing, shuddering halt beneath her. She quickly trotted down the steps on the other side, thankful that she had a ten trip ticket that had not yet expired, and boarded the train just as the guard's whistle blew. She did not see Shannen fall in the grass on the opposite side of the platform, and she did not hear the scream that pierced the Monday morning of a working week that was going to be far from ordinary.


Zachary waited at Central at the farthest end of Platform Eight. Elouise was due to arrive in less than three minutes, and suddenly Zach felt nervous. He had trouble pinpointing the source of this nervousness, and after a minute or so of reasonably shallow searching - Zach made it a point not to ever delve too deeply into his emotions - he eventually blamed it on an underlying sense of ever present guilt. He had been seeing Elouise for about three years now, they met right here at the end of Platform Eight five mornings a week, and in that time Zach felt he had learnt just about all there was to learn about Elouise. She was attractive, and about ten years younger than him, which made her instantly eligible in Zach's eyes, but he had started to feel the affair fade in the past few months and he was in two minds about what to do about it. Zach knew he was not the kind of man to settle down, let's face it, he'd been single for 43 years, he wasn't about to change his habits now, and the relationship with Elouise had started to sink into a routine. They met in the early hours at the station, they drove round to his studio in Frank street, they fucked, then he drove her to work. Not that he was complaining about the sex, even bad sex in Zach's book was still worth having, but he was bored. He knew what she liked, she knew what he liked, and the fun and spontaneity had winked out like a light bulb at the end of its life. If Zach and Elouise had have been married, or in an open, less clandestine relationship, he thought he would probably put in the effort and try and revive the sexual energy that had existed between them for so long. But he was tired, he was bored, and he simply did not feel that Elouise was worth it. She was getting older, her looks would start to fade before too much longer, and he made a point never to hang around that long. What had once been exciting, passionate and somehow dirty and erotic, had now become routine, boring and joyless. He had to end it.

The train pulled into the station, a minute late, and Zach watched as people poured off the last carriage. Elouise was not one of them. Zach gave an involuntary sigh of relief and rose to leave, thinking that he would go online later on and catch her at work, that she would explain how she missed the train, that she was devastated he hadn't waited. He would apologise, bring her flowers tomorrow, and then do the deed that he had been putting off for so long. Zach had taken just one step toward the exit when he was nearly bowled over by Elouise at a full run.
"Oh, Zach, baby! There you are! I almost missed the train, had to get on at the other end. Oh, I'm so glad I caught you!" Elouise's words came out in a breathless rush, the last sentence spoken directly into Zach's shoulder as they embraced.
"Baby doll ... Elly! Settle down, I can feel your heart racing." he pulled her away from his chest, looked her up and down appraisingly, taking in her heaving chest and the red flush that crept from her neck and down into her cleavage. He opened his mouth to give her the bad news, but at the last moment noticed the swelling in his trousers. Ah, what the hell, he thought, one more day wouldn't hurt, "Come on Babe, let's go, huh?"
Elouise grinned, nodded and stuck one toe out in front her, "What do you think, Baby?"
Zach swallowed a groan, plastered a smile on his face, and started to lead her out of the train station, "I love them! Did you get them on the weekend?"


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