The winter chill cut through Phil as he stood on the platform. A billboard advertising an online dating site was behind him and blocked some of the wind, but even in this slight shelter, it was terribly cold. He looked down the track and saw the train approaching. The speaker beeped.
“Good morning passengers. The next train to arrive on platform one will be the 7:37 city bound train running express from Malvern to South Yarra.”
Sometimes, he still cringed. It had been months since she left. Maybe getting on to a year. Mostly, he was ok. He’d changed jobs recently, which had been a nice distraction, and he’d even gone out on a few dates. They hadn’t gone very well, as all he had thought about was her, but he was sure it was a positive thing.
For a week, he’d tried driving to work but he couldn’t stand the traffic and it was against his slightly ecological leanings. Usually his iPod would block out her voice. Today, it was still by the computer.
The train pulled up and Phil pushed on with the other passengers. It was a full train, but Phil didn’t care. In the morning, there were fewer problems with body odour and bad breath. He held on to a strap and tried to read the sports over the shoulder of another commuter. The commuter kept edging away, clearly uncomfortable, but Phil kept moving. Finally, the commuter turned and stared at Phil. Phil didn’t look up, hoping to avoid confrontation.
‘Phil? Phil McIntyre?’
This was not the attack he had been expecting. He looked at the man.
‘Bobby! Shit, I haven’t seen you since… what, since school?’
‘Yeah, that’s probably right. How you going, mate?’
‘Not bad, not bad,’ Phil said, almost believing it. ‘You?’
‘Yeah, good. I’m in at the ATO these days. Corporate, nothing fancy. How about yourself?’
‘I’m in at Ticketfast. It’s a phone ticketing service, but they’re going on the net soon. I’ve been developing the website technology.’
‘Ha! Still at the computers, eh?’ Bobby punched him in the arm. Phil remembered why he hated him. ‘No wonder we don’t see you on the field!’
‘Still playing footy?’ Phil wished there was some excuse to get off. But a conversation like this has to last the whole trip. Unless something causes it to end. Next thing, Bobby would be hassling him about being single. ‘Aren’t you a bit old, mate?’
‘Never too old, mate! And how’s you’re love life? Married, kids?’
‘Oh, you know, can’t tie me down!’ Phil laughed, but it sounded hollow to his own ears.
‘Aren’t you a bit old to be single?’ Bobby laughed. ‘Just kidding, mate. I’m married, meself. Remember Tarryn?’
Phil remembered Tarryn. She’d been the first girl who’d gone out with him, the first girl who kissed him and the first girl who cheated on him and then dumped him. For Bobby.
‘Yeah, Tarryn. Pass on my hellos.’
The train jolted suddenly and Phil felt a warm liquid on his neck.
‘Oh my god, I’m so sorry!’ A woman behind Phil had a take-away coffee cup that was half empty. The rest of the coffee was down Phil’s back. ‘Here, let me fix it up.’
They had pulled into a station and she dragged a confused Phil off the train. She had a packet of tissues and was rubbing at his neck. Phil looked into the carriage as the train took off and Bobby waved.
‘I just had to save you,’ the woman said. ‘You looked so uncomfortable and he was such a wanker.’
Finally, Phil directed his attention to the woman. He had been about to yell at her, but her cheerful smile made him smile.
‘I’m Kel,’ She held out her hand. ‘Nice to meet you.’
‘Phil.’ He responded, barely even thinking of his ex.