The train station was busy as Bridget waited for a table outside the coffee shop. She leant against the wall with her large headphones getting uncomfortable around her neck. She looked for a place to quickly put her latte down but there was no space. She glanced through the window of the shop and thought about going back inside. A burst of laughter drew her attention and she looked at the people occupying the tables.
A group of eight young businessmen had put two of the small tables together and were enjoying a late lunch whilst talking loudly. They were all wearing black suits with white shirts and plain coloured ties. At their feet were messenger bags and small rucksacks. Bridget tried to hear what they were saying, but it was difficult to when they were all talking and laughing at once.
Bridget looked at the only other table where a middle-aged couple sat in silence. By their body languages they were avoiding each other. The man was turned away, looking down at something whilst the woman was looking across at the businessmen. She turned her head and met Bridget’s eyes, a frown on her lips. Bridget knew what the woman saw; a geeky twenty- something girl getting her afternoon coffee fix.
Feeling a touch of guilt, Bridget looked away and up at the train times’ board. From here though the orange letters and numbers with unreadable. However, she was not waiting for a train or for someone to arrive; she was here for something else.
Stealing glances at the couple, whilst trying to pretend she wasn’t watching them, her mind began to fill with ideas. What was their story? She questioned herself. The writer in her wanted to jot all these thoughts down before they become lost to the void. Still though, she hung back, holding her hot takeaway coffee cup and looking around the station.
A large number of people were heading to or from the barrier gates. Suitcases wheeled behind a few of them whilst the majority had rucksacks and some had others bags. Most of the people, Bridget saw were alone and clearly traveling for business. A handful of people were in small groups of friends or family. Voices rose and fell, echoing slightly by the glass roof as they all mingled into one.
The sounds of trains arriving and departing broke up the collected voices. Loud rumblings and clicking of engines sent vibrations through the floor. A whistle blew somewhere, the sharp sound cutting through everything else. A train started to leave platform one, which was only a few meters away from the coffee shop. Bridget watched it go, lost in thought.
A female voice over the PA crackled in with an update announcement, ‘the two-oh-five train to Blackpool North is arriving on platform six and I’m sorry to say that the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train has been delayed due to a passenger taking ill at a previous station. It is now due in at two-forty-eight on platform three.’
Bridget flashed her eyes up to the roof as if the woman was actually speaking from there. For a moment her thoughts switched to imagining that being the case and just like a life guard sat on their tower, Bridget saw a woman sat on top of the station’s roof monitoring all the trains and informing the passengers.
Smiling, she finally gave into being drawn back so much to the couple. Watching them, she started to notice things. The man had short brown hair, a long nose and scrubby brown beard. He was wearing a loose blue shirt and black trousers. One of his legs was resting on top of the other and sometimes he would wiggle his black pointy shoe. He was on his phone, Bridget observed, reading an online newspaper.
The woman on the other hand was fixated on her coffee. Her sad eyes were staring into the white mug clutched tightly in her hand. Bridget knew that look and guessed the woman was fighting back something she wanted to say to the man. Stress lines crossed the woman’s face, appearing through her natural look makeup. She took some shelter behind her curled blonde hair whilst risking a look at the man. She was wearing a peach blouse, a black pencil skirt with coal tights and black flats. The clothing showed nicely her curvy figure and large breasts.
The woman sighed and opened her mouth to speak a few quiet words, ‘I still can’t believe you said that.’
The man slowly rose his head, met her eyes and replied, ‘she deserved it and don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same.’
‘Not like that though…’ the woman trailed with a small shake of her head.
The man shrugged and looked back at his phone again. The woman let out a sigh and stared into her mug once more.
Bridget’s curiosity swelled. To distract herself, she took a small sip of her latte. The hot sweet coffee burnt her tongue and she quickly withdrew. Swallowing as she winced, Bridget noticed the businessmen leaving.
They stood up slowly, keeping the conversations going as they gathered their things. It had had been hard to tell them apart before, but now Bridget could see them individually. They ranged in heights with there being a large difference between the tallest and the shortest. All were clean shaven and three had black hair, one had blond and the others had brown. They seemed an unlikely group of friends, but clearly work had brought them together.
As they walked away, Bridget moved to the tables, but then stopped in disgust. The men had left their empty coffee cups and lunch remains. The crumpled fast food bags and cardboard containers littered the table. She turned away and caught the eyes of the woman who give her a smug look.
Bridget shuffled back to her spot against the wall, just about avoiding two teenage Chinese girls going into the coffee shop.
‘I’m sorry,’ the female announcer seemed to shout above all the noise,’ that the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train has been delayed due to a passenger taking ill at a previous station. It is now due in at two-fifty-five on platform three.’
The man huffed and muttered something that sounded like, ‘just typical.’
‘Next time let’s go via Piccadilly,’ the woman added.
Bridget sighed and looked over at the small pub next door to the coffee shop. There was one high table over there that was free. However, it would not give her a clear view and that was what she needed. As she thought about cleaning the table herself, an older woman with light blonde hair going grey walked up and started cleaning the rubbish away.
Missed my chance, Bridget sulked.
She took a sip of her latte, finding it cooler and watched the woman matching off to put everything into the bin. As she came back, Bridget saw she was actually a worker for the coffee shop. Feeling her luck finally changing, Bridget slide over and waited whilst the tables got wiped down and separated again.
‘Thanks,’ Bridget said as the cleaner walked by.
The woman nodded, smiling happily.
Bridget took the table closer to the fabric barrier that marked the coffee shop’s seating area. Placing her latte down, she pulled off her bag and placed it on the other chair. She took her headphones off her neck and iPod out of her pocket. Unzipping her bag, she put them in then felt the table top. Her fingers came back feeling slightly damp. Settling in, Bridget sipped more of her coffee and watched the flow of the train station.
To Be Continued…