End of the Line

They got a first-class carriage to themselves. This was a spot of luck. They always travelled first class and although they liked people they preferred their own company. James sat facing forward, that is, toward the engine, while Lucy sat opposite with her back toward the engine.

Only an hour earlier, they had disembarked at Tilbury, having arrived from India where they had lived for the past eight years. James was a civil servant but his term had ended. Life in India had been good to them and they had hit it off really well with all with whom they came into contact. They were popular hosts and were seen as a very loving couple. James had earned a knighthood but just what he would now do or where his next posting might take them were as yet unknown.

Forty minutes after leaving Tilbury they arrived at St Pancras and from there to the 5-star Renaissance Hotel.

"Let us celebrate our return home, darling," said James. "Let's dine at the Excelsior. What do you say?"

"That would be wonderful, sweetheart," Lucy replied, smiling lovingly.

"You get dolled up, sweetie. While you're getting ready, I'll dash over to my old club. I'll be back at 7 o'clock."

Lucy looked out of the window and saw James get into a cab and watched it disappear around the corner.

Then Lucy exploded!

"At last, I've got you out of my life. I hate the living sight of you, you insufferable beast. I've put up with this agony for so long but no more. You'll never see me again and, thank God, I'll never, ever, see you again."

For a few minutes she ferociously spewed forth expressions of virulence and hatred. But why? God knows why! But then she calmed. She put a few things into an overnight bag and was gone.

"He'll wonder what has happened to me. He'll worry, he'll miss me"

Lucy went into St Pancras and bought a first-class ticket to take her up north. She was alone in her carriage but sat, as she always did, with her back toward the engine.

At last, unhappy memories were being left behind but a kilometre down the track the train slowed to a stop. Moments later, a train going the opposite direction also slowed down and stopped alongside her train. Lucy looked at her watch. It was exactly 7 o'clock.

"He'll be walking in the door, right now. "Hello, darling," he'll say, and be frantic when he can't find me."

Lucy sat transfixed in thought, but if she had turned her head to the left she would have seen "First-Class" painted on the carriage of the other train and would have noted that carriage, just like hers, had only one occupant.

That particular passenger faced forward, toward the engine. Had he turned his head to the right, he, too, would have seen the same as she had seen.

But as neither moved, Lucy never saw James and James never saw Lucy.

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