They’re steep, the stairs at Highgate Station, dropping into the ground from the car park taking all weathers with them. On a wet late Autumn evening, surface street lamps battling against the gloom, those steps are lethal. Believe me.
The relentless hiss of rain. The pirouette of leaves.
Nobody uses handrails when they’re running.
Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d meet. Usually I’d wait in the car with the radio on, but that one time I decided to buy something from the little booth in the station at the top of the escalators, by the ticket machines, having read a text – “I’m starving!” – and always been eager to please. Something small to eat on the way. Tuesdays and Thursdays were when we’d go to yoga. When I had a body.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, around 6pm, wave after wave of passengers pass through me, joggingly ascendant, phones flying to faces as they approach a signal, eyes raised to the skies and umbrellas popped open, but not… Not.
Taking another route? Another exit? I wait. I hope. Vaguely aware of what feels like cobwebs being brushed through, no, fainter, dreams of them being brushed through, only I’m the cobwebs. I imagine, if they register anything at all, they’ll think it the shift from hot tunnel winds to fresh night air, but it’s me. Waiting, just in case. Nowhere else to be.
Eventually each night, the metal gates are dragged closed. The lights turned off. The hours emptied, darkened. Lengthened.
I recommend against dying foolishly.
Nick Black manages two public libraries in North London. His writing has been published in lit mags including trampset, Okay Donkey, Splonk, Spelk, Lost Balloon, Ellipsis Zine and Jellyfish Review.
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