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Saturday 25 February 2012

Secret identity

Her name is Jane. No, her name is Annabelle. Long blonde hair cascading down over narrow shoulders, she sits opposite me and never once glances up from her romance novel. It is an escape for her. In a few short minutes she will be walking through the open-plan office and through to the kitchenette. Just as the coffee starts to drip into the pot, she will feel a strong arm around her waist, making her jump. She spins around and he kisses her passionately.
Personal trainer Carl gets on just before the doors close and sits down next to me. Placing his gym bag in between his legs he pulls out his phone. Scrolling through text messages, he grins as he stops at one. It is from his girlfriend Claire. No, it is from his boyfriend Brad. They are off to Vegas to get married and the flights have just been confirmed.
Music teacher Betty gets up, straightens her collar and gets ready to leave. She looks tired. I'm not surprised. Her newborn baby kept her up for most of the night.
As I walk towards the doors, Pilot Michael catches me in his periphery and looks up momentarily. Our eyes meet. I can't help but wonder who he sees standing next to him; Tom the photographer? James the lifeguard? Rufus the undercover police officer?
We all have a story, each one perfectly unique and if we are lucky enough, we get to see the real person behind the mask.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Room 209

The key card goes in, the light turns green and I swing open the door.
Falling back onto the bed, the crisp white linen crumples around me as I lie there in the darkness. I have no urgency to illuminate my surroundings, not yet. I remain there frozen in time. For now, this is right where I'm meant to be.
It's funny how, wherever one goes in the world, a hotel room will always be the same, the familiar in an unfamiliar city. Memories of a year living out of them come back to me in an instant. I relive every minute in glorious Technicolor as if watching a montage in a movie, accompanied by instrumental music. Laughter and tears resonate through my mind as they carry me across an ocean.
The sound of a door opening and closing somewhere down the corridor pulls me abruptly from my reverie just as the air conditioning unit clicks on and whirs into action.
My thoughts turn to the other guests above and below who are settling down for the evening in their rooms. What are they doing right this very minute? Watching trashy TV? Saying goodnight to a child on the phone? Brushing their teeth whilst feeling sick about their meeting tomorrow? The endless possibilities contained within the hotel grounds suddenly make the world a bigger place.
I roll over and reach into the darkness. Finding the button, I wake up my phone: 23:42. In a moment I will turn on my bedside lamp and get ready for bed, but not yet. I want to swim in this room for a little while longer.

Sunday 12 February 2012


As the train rocks gently from side to side, the monotonous sound of clickety clack hypnotises me. I am caught in a trance. Gazing out across the horizon towards rolling fields and frosty hedgerows, I watch as the world whizzes by effortlessly. I am part of the blur.
Turning my head, I watch as the lovers opposite simultaneously take sips of hot coffee out of cardboard cups. The man to my right flips over his newspaper with a rustle, and laughter rings out a few seats in front of me; snapshots of people’s journey imprinted in my mind forever.
Sleepily, I turn my attention back out of the window just in time to see a couple of Canadian geese land gracefully onto the sparkling lake as we continue snaking onwards.
Life takes us in many different directions. Sometimes the journey is smooth and straight, other times, we are buffeted around in such a way that we can fall out of our seats. Some of the passengers on our train have been there from the very beginning, remaining for the entire journey as part of the furniture. Then there are the people who board for a few stops only. Their brief presence in our carriage infinitely enriches our life and changes us forever.
For a few moments nothing else exists. My eyes begin to close as I drift gently off into a deep sleep, trusting that I will awaken before my stop.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Risky business

I saw it again last night whilst walking through the darkened alley towards home. In between finger-like branches, it shone out in the shadows like a harbinger of doom, taunting me, teasing me. Its message was clear and echoed loudly as I continued on my journey. The sign designed to strike fear into the heart of every man, woman and child, stared silently down.
Averting my gaze, I looked up at the cloud covered moon with thoughts of danger bouncing through my mind as I continued on.
We climb aboard rollercoasters, jump out of planes, swim with the sharks and bungee off bridges. Aware of the hazards, we buckle up regardless and take that leap of faith into the unknown, hoping that we will get to live happily ever after.
With everything in life, anything worth doing carries a risk. Whether it be leaving the house or falling in love, there is always a chance that someone will get hurt. But these are the things which make life sparkle and we are braver than we give ourselves credit for.
Don't let the danger of death stop you from living; some things are worth the risk.