Eileen McILwain

Why should the train fun stop? We’ve got some more blog posts we’d love to share with you! Here is a story from writer Eileen ILwain.

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

I hate trains. I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in a big metal box with the sort of people you’d avoid on the street. But when you’re sixteen and your boyfriend lives in Parramatta you don’t have much choice. So here I am. On a train.

It’s a scorching summer’s day, the kind that saps all your energy as soon as you step outside. I’m dressed to kill in a black mini skirt and midriff top. Lolita, eat your heart out. Heads turn as I totter down the aisle in my skyscraper heels. I can see the judgement in their eyes –slut, bitch, trash – but

I ignore them, finding an empty seat at the back of the carriage. A middle-aged woman in a hideous green hat glares at me like I am solely responsible for the moral decline of today’s youth. Whatever. I bet she hasn’t been laid in over a year.

The train reeks of BO and vomit, with a hint of stale piss. There’s a round smudge on the window where someone with greasy hair must’ve fallen asleep against the glass. The humidity is stifling. Within seconds my legs are stuck the blue vinyl seat. As I squirm around I catch a man who’s old enough to be my father trying to peer up my skirt. Gross. I briefly wonder what his wife would think before deciding he probably doesn’t have one. Who’d marry a pervert like that? Definitely not the woman in the ugly hat judging by look of disgust she’s aiming at him.

At the next stop a few more people shuffle onto the train, like so many cattle at the sale yards. Everyone looks cranky and hot. I know how they feel. The only thing keeping me sane is the thought of my gorgeous Brazilian boyfriend waiting for me at the other end. His name’s Carlos and we’ve been together for three blissful weeks. I’m pretty sure he’s ‘The One.’ I can’t wait until I get my P’s so I can drive to his house instead of catching the train. Carlos doesn’t have a license, but he’s so sexy I don’t care.

My phone vibrates, making me jump. I rummage around in my little silver bag. Shit, where is it? I finally find my phone at the bottom of my bag and glance at the name flashing on the screen. It’s him! I swear it’s like he knows when I’m thinking about him.

I’m grinning like an idiot as I press the answer button. “Hey babe, what’s up?”
An unfamiliar female voice crackles in my ear. “Is that Michelle?”
“Yes,” I bristle. “Who the fuck is this?”
“This is Bianca, Carlos’s new girlfriend. Carlos asked me to tell you that he doesn’t want to see you anymore.”
“Excuse me?”
“I said Carlos doesn’t want to see you anymore. Got that?” she snaps.
Now I’m really pissed off. “Listen, I don’t care who the you are, I want to speak to Carlos. Right now.”
I hear her mutter “She says she wants to talk to you.” A few seconds later Carlos comes on the “Hello?” he purrs in his smooth Brazilian accent.
“What the hell, Carlos? Who was that girl? Is she your girlfriend?”
“Look, I’m sorry, baby. This isn’t working for me anymore.”
“But why?” I wail, hating how desperate I sound.
“I never get to see you. You live too far away.”
“But I’m getting my license next month!” I’m hysterical now and people are starting to stare. I wish they’d all go away. I wish I’d never gotten on this train.

Carlos sighs. “Don’t get upset, baby. We can still be friends.”
“Friends? You want to be friends? As if I’d want to be friends with a guy who gets his new girlfriend to dump me. Stuff you, Carlos. I hope she gives you herpes!”

I mash the call button with my thumb and shove my phone back in my bag. Unbelievable. What a prick! I can’t believe he broke up with me like that. He could’ve at least had the courtesy to dump me before I got on the train.

This is the worst day of my entire life. To make matters worse, my mascara is running and I don’t have a single tissue to my name. Just when I’m about to start blubbing everywhere someone hands me a pristine white handkerchief. It’s the woman in the awful green hat.

“Here. You look like you could use this,” she says with a sympathetic smile.
“Um, thanks.” I take the hanky, dabbing at my eyes.
“Better?” I nod, too stunned to do anything else.
This seems to satisfy her. “Good. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. Was that your boyfriend on the phone?”

“Yes,” I reply, feeling wretched. “At least, he was.”

She tsks and shakes her head. “Well, it sounds like you’re better off without him if you don’t mind me saying. My son would never dream of treating a girl that way. He’s a good boy, my Matthew. You’d be about the same age. He’s meeting me at the train station and then we’re going to see a movie. Would you like to come?”

I teeter on the brink of saying no, only to change my mind at the last second. I’ve got nothing better to do with my afternoon and I’m not looking forward to the long train ride home.

“Sure,” I grin. “What the hell?”
“Watch your language, dear,” she says, but her eyes are crinkled with amusement. “Come on then. I’m getting off at the next stop.”

I follow after her as she weaves through the crowd towards a guy in a light blue t-shirt. No way. That’s her son? He’s to die for!
“Hi Mum,” he says, giving the woman a peck on the cheek. “Who’s this you’ve got with you?”

She beams at him and it’s obvious how much she loves her son. “Matthew, I’d like you to meet this lovely young lady. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“It’s Michelle,” I mumble, staring at my feet.
“Michelle,” she repeats. “What a pretty name. I invited her to come see the movie with us. You don’t mind, do you Matthew?”

Matthew looks at me and I feel my cheeks grow hot. He has the most adorable puppy-dog eyes. I’ve ever seen and a cute little dimple near the corner of his mouth. “I don’t mind,” he says with a shy smile.

And despite everything that’s happened to me today, I find myself thinking… maybe trains aren’t so bad after all.