• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 10
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Cut your losses and leave

Every year we wait. Our bodies buzz and hum. We are pots about to boil over as the tracks start to quiver and lights flicker in the darkness.

The train that always comes to meet us is part of the London underground but we are not in England and only a few of us are British. It doesn't look like it would fit in our tunnels but the walls morph and eagerly hug at its sides. The concrete platform sizzles below us like a mirage. Out of habit we step back to make room.

Every year we hold our breaths as the doors sigh open to reveal a strange collection of items. The first year it was a coffee machine and a shelf filled with leather bound books. We didn't know what it meant but in hindsight we realized it was a prophecy, the items fitting perfectly to the year ahead. The second year there were more of us, and again the third, the fourth. We bring notebooks and cameras. Tarot cards and incense. We have lived through guns, vicious dogs, screaming babies. One year the train brought a bulbous cloud that released an angry downpour onto the fabric seats. Lightning bolts shot from the doors.

This year though, our group is a sad handful. We are a dying breed and the past twelve months have not been kind to us. But we knew that would happen. Our pens are running dry and our camera batteries are empty. As the train approaches we reach for each other and pray for a miracle. We pray for big things like water, a bounty of crops, an end to the wars. We pray for small things like cookies, clean clothes and the smell of flowers.

The train slides into the station and its doors open like silk. We have been doing this for so long, and whereas once it would have taken months of debate to decide what the train meant, now it takes mere seconds. We are a hive mind. We have not disagreed with each other in decades.


Cut your losses and leave

The lawnmower and backpack are clear as day and our reactions are a needle on a seismograph. There are flowing tears and resigned sighs of relief. There is wall punching. Baseball caps are thrown to the ground and stomped upon. There are shrugs. Bodies shake and last night's dinner rumbles from mouths. We have always been a dramatic bunch.

We scribble our words and draw our pictures as the doors close and the train pulls away. We look around at each other. Our smiles are awkward and sad. This is it, they say.

And just like every year, we ascend the stairs to deliver our report to the waiting crowd.