Bridget watched the hurrying people with interest and was reminded of the sea. People come in and out of the barriers alongside the trains coming in and out of the station. The noise of footsteps, voices, suitcase and pram wheels become one solid background sound that competed with the rattle of train wheels and rumbling of engines. Above it all, came the PA lady’s voice, shouting the arriving, departing and delays on the trains.
Sipping her latte, Bridget dug her other hand into her bag and pulled out a small notebook. Setting that on the now dry table, she reached back in for a pen and spent a few moments locating one. Pulling out a heavy sliver fountain pen, Bridget slid her eyes over to the table beside her.
The middle-age couple had fallen back into silence with the man looking at his phone and the woman now stealing glances at Bridget. Their eyes met once more and this time the woman turned away and drew out her own phone.
Bridget turned her back to them and flipped open the notebook. She turned to the next blank page, her fancy handwriting on the previous pages not catching her eyes enough to make her stop. Picking up her pen and taking the lid off, Bridget wrote the date at the right top corner of the page just like high school had drilled into her for five years. Then in the middle of that line she wrote; Observations At Victoria Train Station, Manchester, 2: 21pm.
From her mind’s eye, she then wrote a detailed description of the couple sitting next to her. After, she recorded that snatch of conversation she had heard. Looking down at what she had written, she tried not to read it back, but to let it go from her mind. Rising her head and tucking a strand of her long med-brown coloured fringe back, Bridget stared at the barriers and watched the flow of people come to a slow stop.
Two men wearing yellow high visibility vests patrolled the area. They were checking tickets that gates would not let through and opening the wide gate for those with prams, suitcases and wheelchairs. Further to the left side and now more visible, another group of people wearing the same yellow vests stood behind a desk. They seemed to be in charge of getting passengers just off trains to pay for their tickets if they had not been able to before. Bridget had missed them in the crowd of the lunch-time rush. The station crew did not held her gaze for long though.
The tinkling of piano brought her head around and to the train time board. Just underneath the forever changing place names and times was a large black upright piano. It had been painted with that special blackboard paint, allowing chalk writing and images to cover the surface.
Bridget had clocked it before when she had been heading to the coffee shop. Even though she could not see it now, she remembered that purple letters had shouted out play on me! Then they had been something about the piano being given free by the Manchester School of Music for public use.
Taking a few big drinks of her now cooling latte, Bridget listened to the sad musical notes ringing out. She did not recognize the song. Though if it was classic, she would have no idea anyway, beside from the few famous ones that get played all the time. On the other hand if it was a pop song or a love ballad, she would not have known that either.
Placing her half empty cup down, she picked up her pen and decided to note down the idea of a pianist who could only play sad music. Maybe his lover has died and he can no longer face the world. The door of his Paris flat has been locked for many years and he’s now slowly dying as he creates the most saddest music man had ever known.
Bridget trailed off the idea. That was not her normally story writing subject. The song on the piano ended and though it had been good, nobody clapped. Normal sounds filled the train station once more. The female announcer broken in with, ‘the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train which was previously delayed, is now arriving at platform three. This service will be stopping at; Liverpool Lime Street only. Please keep your luggage with you at all times.’
The couple hurriedly finished their drinks and got up. Bridget watched them from underneath her hair as they gathered their belongings.
‘Finally!’ the man spoke out, ‘stupid trains, never on time.’
The woman shook her head and looked like she was going to say something back. Thinking better of it, she followed the man out of the coffee shop seating area and towards the barriers. Bridget saw her give a quick glance over her shoulder.
Was she checking if I was following her or if she’d left something behind? Bridget wondered.
Frowning, Bridget watched them feeding their tickets into the gate and going though. Dropping her shoulders and wishing she could have learnt more from that snatch of conversation the couple had had, she let her eyes drift across the station. There was still a large number of people standing about or walking. A few had gathered under the train time table board and were looking up at it. Other people standing still were clearly waiting for people. Bridget spotted someone coming towards her.
He was a tall guy, six foot two at lest and he had long black hair tied back off his face. He had a bushy beard too and a very round fat face. He was a huge young man with a belly hardly held in by the belt of his jeans. He was wearing a black heavy metal band t-shirt and was looking down at his phone as if the thing was alive.
Bridget picked up her pen and began writing again. Another part of her mind drifted off into thinking about who he was waiting for. A family member? An old friend? Maybe he might be going on a first date with someone he met online?
Bridget raised her head and looked at him. She could see the handsomeness in him, the almost American biker style look or perhaps Viking warrior. His arm muscles looked strong under his t-shirt despite his overweight body. Suddenly the man looked up, but not at her at the gates were a woman was coming through. She had ginger hair, fair skin with a splattering of brown freckles and small features. She was wearing a blue vest top, leather jacket and long blue skirt. She was also just carrying a handbag on one shoulder.
She came over, looking happy if a little tried and hugged the huge man. She had to stand on tiptoes and her arms barely went around his bulging neck. She seemed to become lost against him as they embraced tightly. Then, they kissed and hand in hand walked away.
Bridget watched them go, her mind reeling then took to her notebook once more. Just as she started writing someone began playing the piano. It was a different person this time. Bridget rose her head as the first notes become caught up in a man singing- badly. She tried to see who was seated at the piano, but it was not possible from the angle she was at. Getting back to writing, she tried block out the off key and slightly squeaky rendition of a current love song.
She hurriedly wrote down what she could remember about the young man and his girlfriend. Setting her pen down, she finished her coffee and thought about leaving. The man on the piano was making a terrible sound with his voice and yet his playing was not so bad. It also seemed like he had attracted a small group of people, but Bridget knew they were actually looking at the train time table.
She packed her stuff away, zipped up her bag and stood up. Tugging it on as she walked away, Bridget avoided a small running toddler whose mother was yelling in Polish for him to come back. She side stepped and carried on walking as the pianist finished his song and launched into another one.
She saw him for the first time, a short Asian man with close cut black hair, wearing jeans and a green polo shirt. There was a large gold watch on his wrist, which didn’t seem to be slowing him from playing. Bridget almost stopped, the notes sounding very familiar. Then the man opened his mouth and began singing the theme song from Titanic.
Bridget cringed, unable to hide it from her face and picked up her pace. She headed out of the train station the piano and terrible singing chasing after her. Stepping through the doorway, she took a few breaths of polluted city air and though she did not really want to, Bridget went home.
To Be Continued…