A Love Story
“When I was 21, I met this girl. She did fancy me. And I? I was in love with her. She was amazing: Irish, long curly ginger hair, few freckles on her white skin. And her eyes? Her eyes were like the sea. We were together for a while and … Man, that was love!”, he coughs covering his mouth with a huge hand.
He looks across the rail lines, eyes observing a woman talking on the phone. Smiles for a second and gets back to his story.
“I don’t know what happened, she left me for another bloke. He was 27. I shouldn’t have let that happen. My world is empty since she left.”
My train arrives and I have no power to leave. I need to hear the story.
“Oh, where are my manners? My name is Michael and I must apologise for my appearance.”
We shake hands. His huge palm is holding my hand as if I were a kid.
“I am in pyjamas because I ran out of the hospital this morning. They’ve taken away my regular clothes. I need to find myself a pair of jeans or something, I can’t be on the streets like this.”
I feel like a dwarf sitting on the bench near this man. He is huge, calm, and his white beard looks like a frozen cascade hanging on his chest.
“How did you end up here, Michael?”
“I used to drive trains, the kind of trains you see here in the underground. I don’t have any kids, because I never got married. My sister, my only sister, died last year of leukaemia. I am the last one in my family, you know. After me, there is nothing. My sister didn’t have kids either… She died, apart from me, there are very few people to remember her. But me? I used to have good love, I shouldn’t have let her go. God, she was amazing. I miss her so much!”
Another train pokes a hole in his story. He stops looking at the people getting on and off the train.
“I got this condition, well is not really a condition – I am an alcoholic you know. I have been wasting a lot all my life. Nobody owes me nothing, I know, this but the government took away my pension. It is all bonkers. I was ill and one day, they made me sign some papers and now is all gone.”
He looks down at his hands as if wondering about their provenance.
“Since always, in school, at work, I got picked on. Now in the hospital. I don’t know why people are so mean. Why they would not let me be. I was the tallest in the school, at work they did not have a uniform to fit me. Now they pick on my beard, my face, my hat. What is wrong with my hat? It keeps me warm.”
His eyes are wide and clear, searching for answers.
Another train just stopped in. I should board, so I wish Michael good luck and hand him a banana. He closes his eyes while thanking me. I jump on the train right before the doors close. Michael smiles and waves me away.