Forget this is number eighteen, circled red on the calendar.
Forget you are sweaty, can’t be picky, sit down huffily, a storm of skin now dancing in the air above your seat, dead cells resurrected, illuminated by the sunlight streaming in.
Forget the blazered back that traps you in your space, guffawing at a school friend’s joke, reclining into you, her shoulder pressing against your side - you flinch - her frizzy hair intertwining with yours, oblivious.
Forget the urgent tap-tap-tap of fingers on keys disrupting the undulant rhythm of the rails beneath your feet.
Forget the old man across the table. Looking. Looking at you. Into you.
Forget your manners, the possibility of a conversation. You’re not in the mood. Unfold the paper. Skim the news. Make time fly.
Forget his wild eyebrows curling upwards as if seeking sun; steel irises drowning in his raw-rimmed eyes; the smell of leaf-damp ground, an upset sky. Your breast swollen, achy.
Forget the suffocation of his stare, of the crowd’s collective rush-to-be-somewhere, of expectant taxis’ spewing exhausts.
Forget the queue, the wolf-print coat, incontinence pads bulging through flimsy leggings, the King of Rock ‘n Roll winking at you from a holographic handbag, the boy on all fours, tethered to a wrist, chubby fingers picking at gum on the thawing pavement.
Forget fumbling, the febrile flush, your ticket lost in the crease of your purse.
Forget your thickening throat, the road opening on to scrubland, diminutive trees and glinting car parks, goliaths of design, marking your approach.
Forget what you see out of the corner of your eye. That guy. That same old guy – you’re sure of it – sitting a row in front, on the opposite side of the aisle. The silver slick of his hair, the upturned collar of his jacket, his wellies dirtied with clods.
Forget you were first on the bus. You didn’t see him sit down. The scratch of bra against scar.
Forget pushing STOP, watching him get off, ambling a few paces behind the melancholy lull of his whistling, losing him in the lobby.
Forget signs, weaving through the familiar crawl of casts and crutches, fecund bellies and slippered feet, the infirmed pushing the infirmed.
Forget her bright wide smile as she checks the screen, confirms your time, the ghostly etchings on her arm, an angry welt near its crook.
Forget watch-checking, averting eyes, fiddling with the hair you’ve kept. Find the paper, its crossword, ignore the quiver of your hand as you scribble half-thought answers.
Forget the call of your name, the skitter of beats in your chest.
Forget the gloaming room, crafty clasp of your bra, swarming goosebumps.
Forget this is your last time, a bottle of fizz chilling in the fridge, one final climb on to the bed.
Forget smooth leather against skin, the sci-fi whirr of the machine, the stroke of the nib marking your breast.
Forget the longest sound of nothing after they leave, retreat to safety.
Forget the musty maw of the forest floor, its punky greenness
the dank moss and decaying bark
the rattle of brittle flowers in a miasmic breeze
rustling umber ferns
the rark of ravens circling in a curdling sky
the squelch of boots across the tiles
his whistling, slow and ripe with sadness.
Forget the tears running down his thread-veined cheeks, raining on to yours.
With a backdrop of sky-filled waters and endless horizons, Kerry lives and writes in the Cambridgeshire fens. Her work has been published in streetcake magazine.