WAITING

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tramstopI’m waiting for the tram, at the junction. Waiting where the streets cross, and the lights change, and the cars stop and go in regular patterns, repeating over and over. Passengers stare and I stare back, like we’re sizing each other up.

My tram’s late, so I have to keep waiting. And all the time more cars in streams of colour. Different colours, but they look the same. They might as well all be grey. Where’s everybody going? Why am I the only one waiting for a tram?

Just now, somebody else arrived at the stop. Another. He stood behind me and I sensed him checking me out, and my neck and scalp began to prickle. I turned around, and he turned away.

His jeans: they’re tighter than mine. Skin-tight, and grey. But not grey like the cars seem to me. The jeans are a good grey. A vibrant grey.

I want to hear his voice. I’ll try to catch his attention, and if he looks up I’ll smile. He might smile back. A smile gets a smile, right? So, let’s go forward a little: maybe we smile, and then we might laugh at the silliness of our unease, and begin a halting conversation. Meaningless chatter in many ways, but important because it could be a genesis. Wild imaginings? Perhaps. But why not, while you’re waiting at the tram stop?

But he doesn’t even look. I notice a blush starting at his neck. He moves away, checks the timetable, checks his watch; glances in the direction of the absent tram. And then he walks away in urgent strides. He doesn’t turn back.

I should have talked to him. It would have been easy. The circumstances were appropriate. I could run now, and chase him. No, not chase him, but catch up to him. Capture the moment. Break the ice. I like your jeans. I just wanted to tell you. Or tell him he looks good in his jeans. Hot in the jeans, even. I wonder if that’s something I could say. Of course I could. What’s the harm? People enjoy a compliment, don’t they?

He’s disappearing into the underpass. If I run after him now, the tram might come, and then I’ll miss it. I’d miss it because it wouldn’t wait. The driver would see an empty shelter and drive right by without stopping. And I mustn’t miss that tram. I’ve waited long enough. Invested too much time in the waiting to let it slip away for a boy I don’t know and a headful of maybes and possibilities.

So that’s that, then. He’s gone, and I’ll probably never know what could have been. He’ll never know. We’ll both never know. Opportunities are streaming by me lately, like the cars on these roads.

There’s still no sign of the tram. Maybe it’s not coming. No, it has to come. It’s just late. Trams are often late. That’s what they do. It’ll be here soon enough. Stop thinking about it. Stop measuring the time.

The car passengers look so passive. They’re like cows being herded-off against their will. But they’re not imprisoned. They could open the doors while they’re stopped at the lights. Open their doors, and wait for the tram with me. Together we’d laugh at the cars. Stand and point and laugh at the drivers alone and ridiculous in their huge grey cars.

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13 thoughts on “WAITING

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Jenny.
      I don’t understand the access issue because your comment has come through fine onto the site. We could try and resolve it next time we meet.
      Hope you had a good weekend.
      xxx Barry

  1. mmmccaffrey

    Barry, thanks for this. It’s capturing that moment where a lot happens in the quickest space of time, and you hardly know you are thinking it. That’s why writing is important.

  2. “I could run now, and chase him. No, not chase him, but catch up to him.” I love this piece in its (brief) entirety, the slight sense of menace, the strangeness, the everyday turned on its head. Brilliant.

    • Hi Ríona. I was really pleased to read your comments. I’m so glad you got something from the story – thanks for reading. And thanks for connecting on Twitter. I’m looking forward to checking out your work. Barry

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