For Lakita, because you asked so nicely…
I don't know about you, but the London underground is creepy late at night. Down amongst the bowels of the city. Trains rumbling and screeching along pitch black tunnels. Over a century of accidental deaths and suicides litter the tracks and stations. Like I said, creepy. No one ever thinks about the man or woman who leaps in front of the train. The horror of the train driver, as the wind on the front of his train pushes the blood up past the wipers. The ghosts of wounded lives drift endlessly along the tracks. Whispers of what was, shallow breezes of cool air mistaken for a train coming into the station. Yes, the London underground has its fair share of the lost, the damned.
It was on the underground that I saw her. Tall, with long red hair and pale white skin. Not overly thin, athletic would be the best word. But she had one distinguishing feature, one thing that stood out from everything else, from everyone around her. Her emerald eyes had no fire. Nothing more than green glass in a porcelain face. Almost as if she'd given up on her life long, long ago. For one moment she was there, and then she was lost amongst the faces on the train. Gone forever.
Sometimes I'd see her on the platform. Watching the mice as they ran between little piles of debris left behind by the day's travellers. She'd stand there on the edge, peering over and smiling. The young one's were sometimes too fast to see, little blurs chasing each other next to the electrical lines that fed the trains themselves. The older ones moved back and forth across the floor, some of them missing their tails or fur. So she'd watch them from the very edge, only pulling back at the last second as the trains came in. Looking up, as if in surprise to see it. But always that same look in her eyes, as if something was missing from her life.
Then she started appearing with a partner. There was a different one every so often, arm around her waist, telling jokes. She'd laugh, but there was no humour there, nothing to make it real. Sometimes she looked as wraithlike as the ghosts that haunt this place. The ghosts I see every night.
Suicide isn't a nice thing to watch. I've seen enough to know just how unpleasant it can be. People do it because they think it's the only way out. It's not; it just traps them like flies in amber. Frozen in time, never released until they become their despair. These are driven men and women. Hounded by a society that can't understand their pain and anguish. In a world that only cares about standing on one another's shoulders, always reaching towards the unattainable. I saw her face, looking up. Looking around at the people around her. Looking down upon the shoulders of her parents. She was a part of the tower of mankind, wavering in the winds and on the verge of toppling at any moment in time.
The last night I saw her alive, she looked as stunning as ever. That night she had obviously been to some kind of gala event. A tight fitting dress encased her in purple, glittering, sequins. Glitter sparkled in her hair, and across her cheeks. But the sparks that had been there, were gone once more. Her mascara had run down her face, leaving blackened streaks behind it. And she had an aura glowing around her that told of her loss of faith. That wandering the ruins of her life was now, too much to bear. I watched as she stepped off the platform, as the train came to meet her, that evening.
So much blood…
I would have tried to ask her, why? Life is such a beautiful thing. Something to be cherished and held for as long as it is there, for when it is gone… I suppose I can say that can't I. I'm as much a remnant of a life long past, as she is now. I still see her on the platform, amongst the other ghosts. The horrors that lurk down here in the perpetual darkness, replaying our final moments forever like a stuck record. Over, and over... She'll always look beautiful to me, in the washed out colours of her purple dress. Still sparkling under the fluorescent lights, until they go out…
Until all our remnants fade away.
Copyright March 2000-03-02