Now My Wings Fit

The Chain

Yet another Fictionpress oldie. Also written for the project I did in college, though this was inspired by a Tube station (I can’t remember which one).

Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us.

– Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

She has to get the five past four train today, no matter how many times that she was held up by idiots on Boris Bikes and people getting in her way as she made her way from the office to the station. She descended the stairs into the deep underbelly of the city, where people bustled among each other and their chatting was only coupled with the incessant bleeps from the barriers as people scanned their Oysters.

He’d been at it again today – the bloke from Accounting. It was sad, because she genuinely liked him, but she was never going to go out with him, and she could barely tell him why. It had been hard enough telling her best friend all those years ago, back before she’d even known the bloke from Accounting.

Hopefully, it would be easier tomorrow, when she walked into the office with the ring on her hand: the ring that she had in her pocket.

She would ask tonight.

And she would say ‘yes’.

Her nerves began to build as she got onto the platform, so she bought a cup of coffee from the kiosk. The man working there fixed her with the usual scowl that she saw every day.

The man hated her, though she would never know. He hated all of those women who worked in the city, who came in with their tight blouses with their top three buttons undone and their skirts that kept sliding up their legs to show off more and more skin before they got annoyed and yanked them down again and their high, high heels that were as flattering as they were necessary.

He watched her leave from his kiosk, hating her and hating every minute that he had to spend in this awful sweatbox. He had known a woman like her, all that time ago; except he had been married to her. She had supported him in his dream, and had gone out to work every day in a white blouse – buttoned up to the top – and a pair of black trousers and sensible shoes to the office in the city, so that he could stay at home.

She had left him nearly a year ago now, and he had been forced to get a real job. Before, she had said that she loved his writing and couldn’t wait for him to finish his novel and get it published – then maybe neither of them would have to work ever again. Now she was gone and he was serving coffee to women just like her, who had ripped his dream to shreds.

He would probably never finish his novel now.

The chocolate bars piled high on the front of the kiosk began to slip, and he leaned forward over the newspapers to catch them before they fell; but they were too far away, and some of them clattered to the floor. Thankfully, someone passing helped to pick them up and fixed the chocolate-slide for him, placing them all back in their rightful places before carrying on.

He was a tall boy, probably a teenager by the look of his youthful skin. His clothes were plain and distinctly working class: a tracksuit made from tacky fabric with black stripes up the sides, expensive branded trainers and a grey hoodie pulled over his head.

Everyone on the platform was giving him a wide berth, perhaps afraid of his hood, or the black skin that covered his visible hands. Some were eyeing him with suspicion, their gazes falling fearfully on his bag as if it concealed a weapon of some kind. They all thought him stupid, scum.

But that bag did not have a weapon inside it: it had books and pens and pieces of paper, with notes scribbled on that he would need for his exams in a few months’ time – exams that he was determined to pass.

Beneath his hood, his face was obscured, but not because he had any qualms about being recognised. He wore it to hide the feature of his face that alarmed people even more than his attire and his large bag: he wore it to hide the burn that covered his entire right cheek.

He had been five years old when his house had caught fire, but on the pavement outside he had realised that the cat had not escaped the blaze as quickly as its owners had. Ignoring the screams from his parents, he went back into the house and rescued her, emerging with a trembling feline in his arms and a strange feeling on the side of his face.

He needed to get to a different part of the station; he was moving lines and moving platforms, and in his journey through the hustle and bustle, he accidentally bumped his hand against a small girl. He threw an apology in her direction, but she appeared to not hear him.

She was clutching her mother’s hand and was apparently gazing around at the wonders of the station that she found herself in. Her bright purple notebook was held tightly to her chest, the feathery pen sticking out of the ring binds on one side. The notebook was full of stories and poems, escapes from the real world into fantasy and adventure.

She had been writing in notebooks like it for half of her life, enjoying the immense power that she possessed when she held a pen in her hand. With one flick of her hand, she could give her characters everything they had ever dreamed of, everything they had ever hoped for.

With the same flick of her hand, she could kill them all.

A train pulled into the station and the child was led onto it by her mother. Already sitting on the train was a Labrador with adoring eyes; she patted it on the head before sitting down.

The dog watched her as she walked by, and the eyes of the man holding onto its lead watched as well. He remembered when his daughter had been that age, before she had grown up and left home. That had been decades ago, and – while they were still on good terms – it had never been the same since.

He would see her soon; they were going to the cemetery to lay flowers on his wife’s – her mother’s – grave, after twenty years of the woman’s absence. It still brought tears to his eyes.

When the train pulled into the next station, the man stood up, holding onto the pole with the same hand curled around the dog’s lead to help him rise. A young woman was holding onto the pole and his hand brushed against hers.

And so the chain continues…

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