The just-a-sip cup Makes You Blink So Many Times

"Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever?"

-Mitch Albom, For One More Day

July 2010

Trains are deceptively calming, Haytch thought as he allowed his forehead to touch the cool surface of the window. He could feel the barely controlled shudder of the immense vehicle when he did this, and felt his heart pitter patter along with the beats of the Blink 182 song he was listening to at full volume, head nodding discretely every now and then as he handled his headphones so that they would fit properly. Seconds later, of course, they'd slip again. He wished for earphones, dammit. Curse his mother and her insistence that headphones were safer and would slow the steady pace at which he travelled towards deafness.

But not really.

His eyes drifted shut as he grew tired of the relentless green on the other side of the tracks. No, rather he didn't mind so much cursing her repulsive fiancé and her inability to see his damned flaws.

Or maybe, even, she saw them. He'd heard, apparently, that that was what love was; knowing a person's imperfections and loving them despite it all. But how was that possible? How could she love the grin that seemed more animal than man, to Haytch's eyes, and the laugh that, though seen very rarely, too much resembled the howl of an abused dog? His jokes weren't facetious, and his, actually rather Herculean, nose and chiselled cheeks grew red and blotchy when he drank alcohol, which he did far too often. Even worse, he seemed to grow with each shot he downed. That was the main problem, Haytch supposed. The guy was usually quiet –just an uncomfortable presence. A fly on the wall. But when he drank alcohol, not only his voice and his stance, but his confidence, and the wildness at which he gestured all just grew like those water-grown boyfriends he saw once in a naughty shop. The brash and bitter tone of his laugh seemed, always, suddenly highlighted, and his mother would always only shake her head and sigh, love-sick cluelessness in her eyes. He's had a tough day at work. Leave him be, alright, Haytch? Why don't you put on a cup of tea, and I'll meet you in a little bit?

Sometimes, he was afraid. For her. Because she wasn't.

Haytch shivered as the train rushed through a tunnel, and then winced when he emerged, the sun returning almost brighter than before. He'd forgotten sunglasses.

He was a little glad he was spending summer at his father's house, down south. He'd miss his mother, but getting away from he who would be his step father in a few much too short months was worth it.

Suddenly the train began to slow, and Haytch cranked open one eye, then blinked open two. The mechanical female voice was announcing Southampton just as the platform sign slid liquidly into view. Not long left, he thought. And he settled deeper into his seat with a resigned sigh. The moment the train squeaked to a stop, Haytch's music faded too. He plucked his mp3 from his hoodie pocket and stared at it for a moment, wondering if he should repeat the song, or skip onto another from the same album (as he was fast becoming a huge fan of the band he'd only recently discovered), when he heard a strangled profanity spat from the aisle next to him. Turning to observe, he found a gangly – and, yes, that was the only word for it – guy in a torn t-shirt and jeans that were what he was sure was called "stone-washed", or something else of that ilk, but were on the unfortunately unfashionable side of that trend. The guy had practically jumped out of his seat and was now tugging at his battered leather suitcase, which was, evidently, stuck in the overhead storage space, all the while exposing how extensive his offensive vocabulary was. When the bag finally gave way, the guy almost fell onto Haytch – but there was a great lack of apology offered. Oh yes. Rather, he glared when Haytch made even the smallest sound in surprise, and turned back to his seat to grab a shoulder bag that would not zip shut for the amount of objects inside it.

In the lanky guy's rush to run out of the carriage and out of the, now closing, doors, said shoulder bag smacked Haytch's table, and a black notebook fell right out, incidentally crashing into the cup of coffee Haytch had bought (to feel so very adult, though he'd hated the minuscule sip he took with so fierce a feeling, he'd felt tears brim) and spilling the beverage. Haytch wouldn't miss it, but he was sure the scatterbrained idiot would want his notebook back.

By the time Haytch was standing, however, notebook raised in hand, the train had begun to move, drawing away from the beanpole of a man, who was leaning against the wall of the station, panting. By chance, or fate, depending on the teller of the tale, their eyes met. One blinking in indifference, the other widening in a dawning panic that paralysed.

Name: Christopher Otter Norman

Address: A shit hole.

Reward if found: I'm fucking skint. How about gratitude?

I'd like to think

that if I died

a ghost of God

would find me.

# cup on a canvas #

What a growly guy.