The train shuddered into Liverpool central station. Kimmy frowned out at the weather before they moved inside. It was raining heavily with the sky dark and thunderous. She felt Alex easing himself up and turned to watch him stretching his legs. He then had to side step out of the way as a disgruntled older man shot him a look and tried to get passed.
‘Some people,’ Alex muttered under his breath as he sat down again.
Around them, the other travellers were collecting their things and queuing to get off the train. Voices and the clatter of objects vibrated down the carriage. Kimmy watched a group of six girls, partly dressed for a night out, began squeezing by other passengers. Their laughing and loud voices carried above the other noises.
‘Do you want that coffee? Maybe something to eat?’ Alex asked, drawing her attention back.
‘What time is it?’ Kimmy muttered and began searching for her phone.
Alex bet her to it and pulled out his, ‘it’s coming up to one.’
‘I’m meeting a friend, actually,’ she suddenly recalled.
‘Oh, okay…’ he trailed off, his face falling.
‘How long are you staying in Liverpool for?’ Kimmy cut in.
‘Till Sunday night. I’m working on some drawings for a family member.’
‘I’m here till about then too. Maybe we could meet? Shall we swap numbers?’
‘I think I left my phone in my bag,’ Kimmy pointed out.
Smiling, Alex slide out of the seat and grabbed her rucksack. Whilst she searched through it, he picked up his own bag and put it on. Finding her phone, they swapped numbers and got off the train together. Avoiding the tail end group of passengers, they walked off the platform into the station.
The rain rattled on the metal roof above them and the air was filled with train fumes, warm food, coffee and a tang of cigarette smoke wafting in as the glass doors opened. Kimmy clocked a coffee shop and was half tempted to change her mind about waiting. She heard her name being called and whipped her head back.
Two girls, standing at an advertising board were waving at her. They both had black hair, nose and ear piercings, heavy dark makeup and were wearing similar matching black clothes. To the fleeting eye they looked like twins, but up close they were completely different and easy to tell apart.
‘I have to go,’ Kimmy pointed out.
‘I’ll text you or you can text me. I’d really like that coffee and to see you again,’ she babbled.
‘Me too,’ he replied softly.
Kimmy smiled then trying not to look back at him, hurried over to her friends.
The weekend didn’t fly by as Kimmy had hoped it would. The idea of seeing Alex again hung around her neck like The One Ring. That Friday night, she had settled down on her friend’s lumpy student sofa and watched her mobile phone screen glowing in the dark. His number and name were on the screen and the empty white box below was waiting for her words.
She hadn’t been able to type or more to the point, she didn’t know what to say. Sighing, she had put the phone down and looked up at the dark ceiling. The thoughts and questions kept her up all night. Franticly, she wanted to see him again, but what if he didn’t want to? What if it had all been a spur of the moment thing? Perhaps, they’d never see each other again. Anything could happen in the space of a few days, hours or minutes.
In the morning, she felt and looked sick. Having gotten up early, put on makeup, eaten and plastered a smile on her face, her friends didn’t notice when they joined her. The day though, dragged on and she felt more on autopilot then at the wheel. Liverpool was crowned with payday shoppers fighting over the last of the reduced Christmas stock and making faces at the up and coming Valentine’s Day cards and gifts that had been slipped onto the shelves.
Kimmy lost herself in a bookshop whilst her friends where in a clothes shop next door. Her fingers scanned along the book spines before randomly pulling one out. Her thoughts were far from the words and images in front of her though. She was glad for lunch and coffee followed by a break in a small park at the back of the town hall.
After they, visited one of Kimmy’s favourite places; Quiggins. An old cinema and orchestra hall turned into a small shopping outlet for indie and alternative fashion. Looking through all the amazing gothic style dresses at the back of one of the shops, Kimmy decided she just couldn’t take it anymore and took out her phone.
She texted Alex and asked how he was.
What if he doesn’t reply? What if it’s a wrong number? What if…? She shook her fears away and put the phone back in her jean’s pocket. As her friends drift over to a Steampunk display, Kimmy heard the ping of a text message. She scrambled for her phone, causing the woman owner of the shop to look up in concern. Kimmy’s eyes darted across the screen and she took in his reply.
Am fine. At work. Can I call you tomorrow morning?
Smiling like the happiest person on Earth, she texted back yes and felt her chest swelling. When she caught up with her friends and they questioned her, she refused to tell and brushed everything off. The rest of the afternoon raced by and they ended with a night out circling the bars and clubs, drinking and dancing till they had to go home.
Kimmy felt like her head had been crushed. Rolling over and pressing her face into a pillow, she half suffocated before having to turn back again. The living room danced before her as if it had taken on the motion of a ship at sea. Her stomach rolled with it and she felt sick.
Struggling up, she bolted for the bathroom, but tripped on the stairs and had to scramble up on all fours. Bursting through the door, she threw up and couldn’t seem to stop till bile had burnt her throat raw.
She washed her mouth, brushed her teeth, showered and dressed, somehow. Getting a cup of tea and glass of water, she sat on the living room floor and pawed through her handbag. She found her phone at the bottom.
Alex had tried ringing her twice and had sent three text messages.
Moaning softly, she text back, feeling guilty, but stating they could still meet.
If he hasn’t changed his mind! The voice in her head cried.
Curling up on the sofa again, she slept off most of her hangover before her friends woke her up to go out to eat. After, she wasn’t in the mood to stay any longer, so she packed up and left. She wandered around Liverpool by herself, enjoying the cold air and old buildings.
Finally it was time.
Alex had suggested they met at a chain coffee shop in the centre. As Kimmy walked over to it, he was all ready there. His head was down and he was checking his phone. A group of people stepped in front of him, but as they went passed, he looked directly up at her.
Kimmy waved and came to his side.
‘Hi,’ he said softly.
‘Hey. I’m so sorry about this morning. I don’t normally get so drunk!’ Kimmy declared.
‘It’s fine. You had a good time?’
She nodded, ‘I did. How did the art, drawing thingy go?
Alex shrugged, ‘okay. Going to need longer though…do you want to hear about it?’
‘I don’t mind. I really need a coffee though. This hangover is still lingering.’
Laughing, Alex swung open the door for her and she stepped inside with him close behind.