Crush(ed)

Image from Wikimedia Commons, by Rept0n1x

The wheels on Clara’s suitcase clickety-clacked over the pavement towards the station.

“I’ll miss you,” Tom said. He tried to gaze into her eyes, but it didn’t really work while they were walking.

“I’ll miss you too.” At the barrier, Clara disentangled her hand from Tom’s. “Don’t look so sad, you knew I’d have to go back to college.”

“You’ll forget all about me.”

Clara reached for her ticket. “Of course I won’t.”

“Please don’t go yet. Your train doesn’t leave for ages.”

They both looked at the clock. She had four minutes to get to her platform. Clara sighed.

“Hang on, just a moment.” Tom ran to the nearest machine and returned clutching a ticket.

“You can’t come with me, Tom, we agreed. Besides, there are reserved seats—”

He shook his head. “It’s just to get me through the barrier. So I can see you off properly.”

Clara went through the gate where Tom, yapping at her heels like a puppy, insisted on taking her suitcase.

They stood in a private pocket of silence amidst the bedlam of the busy station. Eventually, Tom spoke. “I got you a present.” He pulled a bag from his pocket. “Some headphones, so you can remember me when you’re listening to music.”

She smiled and thanked him, and they had a final hug as the train slid alongside.

From her window seat, she smiled again as Tom pressed his nose against the grimy glass.

Her final sight of Tom was when he reached the end of the platform and abandoned his chase with a final wave. She unwrapped the headphones. They would always remind her of him.

With great care, she placed them on the floor and ground the earbuds into tiny pieces under her heel.

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