The silver city.

She found that people moved with a sense of purpose at the station and that the air was always heavy with the anticipation of new arrivals. It was not a place anyone wanted to linger - the station represented a kind of purgatory between the journey and the destination.

But she stood there, stamping her heavily booted feet in an effort to win back some feeling while waiting. It had been a typical Scottish winter so far - it kept threatening to snow but the best that the sky ever seemed to manage was a sort of slush that was neither rain nor ice but somehow worse than both. It never quite settled on the roads or in the fields but it did congeal in puddles and on clothing. Nothing ever seemed to dry from October to April and this far north the daylight only lasted for a few hours, the sun obscured by pregnant clouds.

It was about six o'clock in the evening and she scanned the list of departures and arrivals from under the brim of her hat. It was dark outside already and the light within glowed in a cool yellow colour; flickering occasionally and making it feel all the more artificial. There was a click as the antiquated display system changed and a mechanical voice rang out, chill and metallic over the icy, tiled hall.

The six-thirty-two from Edinburgh would be late today. Not that she'd expected anything different really; it was always ten minutes late.

She considered sitting down and buying one of those coffees in the little paper cups but she'd run out of change and the steel seats looked hard and foreboding, the black lacquered paint a harsh contrast to the polished grey, granite tiles.

Everything here was grey. The sky, the buildings, even the water in the harbour a little way off. They called it the silver city but it only ever really seemed silver when the sun shone. The rest of the time it was a dirty, diluted grey, as if someone had painted all the buildings white a long time ago and had forgotten to clean them since.

There was a phone box on the wall near the platform that pointed north. There were only two platforms as people rarely came this way. Nowadays, there was only fish and oil in Aberdeen and neither drew in visitors. The phone was the same lacquered black as the steel chairs though its receiver was chipped in places. A man in a trench coat - the only other person left at the station - used it to call for a taxi and she returned to scanning the lists for his train.

It had been due to arrive ten minutes ago but she hadn't seen it and she had been there a good half hour in advance, fretting about the meeting. She had been to the bathroom at least twice in that time to check her make- up and the angle of her hat but she didn't dare go again in case she missed him.

The sign clicked round again, its square writing on the background proudly proclaiming the train had been on time, despite there being no train. Her stomach lurched - what if there had been an accident? What then? How long would she wait for him before she knew, alone in this lofty, icy building. She had once told him that she would wait forever but she was having second thoughts as she scanned her cold surroundings. She felt exposed, alone, there. Everyone else had gone outside to their waiting cars and then on to their waiting families but she stood by herself. One person left in the freezing expanse of the station, waiting for a train that had apparently already come.

She stamped her feet, half out of cold and half out of frustration as she strained her ears. It was seven o'clock now and behind her the keeper of the little newsagents was packing up but she also thought she could hear the low rumble of the train, growling towards the platform.

She felt it before she saw it - the ground seemed to shake and the squeal from the brakes echoed through her bones long before the two orbs of the headlamps came into view.

The train was only three carriages long and looked empty, the only passengers on it clones of one another in grey business suits. They climbed down from their various carriages, stiffly, none of them looking at her as they passed. They all headed towards the door, not giving her a second glance, pulled towards the outside world as if by some invisible force.

He was the last one to get off the train, but then, some part of her had always expected that. He carried a camper's rucksack and wore an old, battered leather coat.

She felt the blood rush to her cheeks and was suddenly too hot. She bit her tongue and willed herself to stay glued to the spot and not start jumping excitedly. As he approached her though she abandoned all self control and ran forwards, throwing herself around his waist, knocking the carefully positioned hat into a new angle. He laughed, cheerfully and held her, removing the hat with one hand and pressing her head to his chest with the other.

They walked hand in hand to the exit, ignoring their surroundings. When they reached the door she realised that the rain had almost turned to snow and perhaps it would be a white Christmas this year. Frost was beginning to form and it, along with the light of the full moon, brought out the quartz in the granite of the buildings, making them shine. Perhaps the city was silver, after all.