I am still keen to be your girl
Her loud voice resonated through the whole train as she asked the person standing next to her. “Can you help me get off the train as I’m afraid of the gap between the train and the platform.” I turned to look and there she was in her oversized green woollen coat, a beanie cap pulled over her head, high powered glasses perched on her nose, looking helplessly around. The girl next to her said “why not” and with a nod from her, the agreement was in place.
The train slid in silently into the station and she clutched on feverishly onto her neighbours hands and with a big step she managed to avoid the gap that scared her so much. I got off and as I was walking away I heard her thank them and ask if they were going to Kenton. We were all at a busy train station and I knew she had to take the Bakerloo line to go to Kenton from where she was now. I knew that cause thats’ where I had to go. I heard the girl reply in the negative and they were now worrying what to do. I had walked away by then and thought to myself its best I don’t get involved in this. As I looked into my phone to change the song I was listening to, Liam’s (my older son) picture popped up by mistake or was it a sign… it was like as if he was telling me to go back. So I turned around and she was still there clutching a printout of the train route tightly in her fist. The two worried girls who helped her out of the train were now wondering what to do.
I walked back to them and told her that I was going to Kenton and that she could come along with me. All three of them looked suspiciously at me. She looked at her new found friends as if to get their permission. They asked me if I was going to Kenton again and I said “yes” with a smile. She looked at me and said “ok then I’ll come along with you”. So I asked her to come along and walked alongside me. As we walked down the stairs I skipped a couple of them and she shouted “hold on, I can’t keep up with you”. I smiled sheepishly and gave her my hand and she clutched on to it tightly and walked alongside me.
As we neared the platform stairs a train slid in and she started to get excited. “Come on lets go faster or else we will miss our train”. I told her to calm down as there would be another train coming by in a few minutes and she heaved a sigh of relief and smiled at me. Her face was thin and gaunt with very sharp features scarred on one side. Her face quickly told me that she had being through a lot in life and seemed challenged in some ways. She stood by me patiently without saying a word as the next train rolled in. She clutched my arm tight and took another big step as she stepped onto the train. Everyone turned around and started staring at this odd couple. One half of me was embarrassed as she stood in the train holding my arm but the other half of me was also proud like as if Ms. World was standing next to me.
A young smartly dressed man was talking to his girlfriend loudly on the phone and she stared at him. Deep down I was hoping she would not say anything to him. The young man asked his girlfriend a question on the phone “if some other woman were to ask me to do that then do you think I would say Yes?” His girlfriend never gave him a straight answer and he laughed loudly and cut the phone off. She looked at him and said “I would never do that to you.” I was shocked and looked away. The lady standing next to her started smiling. The young man just ignored her, so she tapped him and asked him his name. He said he was Michael and she said “it’s really nice to meet you Michael and I am Rebecca.” Ironically it was only then that I got to know her name. He smiled back and she told him “if I was your girl then I wouldn’t do that to you”. Michael began to laugh loudly and asked her “were you listening to my conversation?” She said “yes Michael you were talking so loudly so who could ignore your conversation. I am still keen to be your girl by the way.” He went crazy with laughter.
As he walked away breaking her heart Michael said “it was lovely meeting you Rebecca and you have a good day.” She laughed and gave me a wink. Everyone around her started smiling and laughing and everyone were touched by Rebecca’s personality in some way at that moment. I also felt light and different while I smiled and laughed with strangers from all walks of life.
She asked me my name and if I lived in Kenton and I said yes. I asked her the same question back and she said yes she lived there all her life and was now moving away to a Care Home in South London. She then whispered to me “it’s actually a hostel for the homeless, I call it a Care Home so it sounds better.” The train rolled in to Kenton and she clutched me tightly as I helped her get off the train. She felt so relieved, lifted her palm in the air and asked me to high five her right in the middle of the platform. Then she thanked me. She said “this is Kenton and I now know my way around, thank you so much.”
As we walked towards the exit I asked her if she lived close by. She said it was just around the corner and it was actually a rehab centre for the mentally disabled. She had been there for all her life and just loved the area. She was sad that she was moving away from this familiar place at this age, but had no choice in the matter.
I shook her hand and said “Rebecca meeting you today was fantastic and so you have yourself a good evening and take good care of yourself.” She said “thank you Vernon and yes I will take good care of myself,” with a smile. I was starting to feel sad that she would be out of my life now and I may never see her again. As I walked away I saw her scurrying down the street trying to reach her home - her familiar sanctuary.
I turned up the volume on my phone and walked home singing loudly to myself. The song was “Everybody Hurts” and I thought about Rebecca. Alone in the world with no family around her from a very young age, living her life with such panache and independence, talking to strangers and making friends everywhere she goes. So as the song went:
If you’re alone in life, the days and nights are long. When you’ve had too much of this life, hang on.
Maybe this was Rebecca hanging on or maybe it was just me…