Commute, 17th May

Kal Tayman

The woman who gets on now has a unique way of sitting down. She extends her bottom until it hits the back of the seat, then she slides her bottom downwards until it reaches the horizontal. Her clothes say that she has been at work, in a job where flimsy clothes will not get dirty or damaged.  

The man next to me smells of polish and beer. He has had two beers already. Preteen girls are shrieking, talking over each other. Their voices at slightly different pitches clash against each other and make an electrifying blockage in my ear so bad I can barely see. It’s like a whole lot of hashtag symbols got stuck all together in a pile up. 

There are cars passing over a bridge and a tourist boat, followed by a barge, is passing below it. This is very exciting.  

There is a man hanging on to the strap in the aisle. His clothes say function is more important to him than fashion. His jacket probably packs down into a little pouch, or its own pocket. My hand wants that sensation, the feeling of pushing the slippery quilted polyester fabric down onto itself, compressing it, like the feeling of a camping trip being over. 

The train rounds a slight bend, which means that the front and side of the train are visible from the last carriage, which is why it’s best to sit in the last carriage. Sitting in the driver’s seat would of course be even better, so you could see the stations swing into view along the tracks. You’d be able to see everyone getting on in the mirrors and on the CCTV. 

The man who is asking for money every day is asking for money. His two dogs are following him, tails down, heads down. They look magnificent. Even all together, those three, although they smell quite strongly, don’t smell as bad as the beer and polish man, but I think many people wouldn’t agree with me. 

A long distance intercity train is travelling parallel to the commuter train, at the same speed. Then something even more exciting happens. A lone decoupled engine comes hurtling the other way down the set of tracks between the two trains. This is the best thing that happens all day.

Kal grew up in Aotearoa/New Zealand. They lived in London for some time, where they, among other activities, printed and bound artists’ books and zines in small editions. Now, living in Berlin, they have recently returned to prose writing, their first love.