The listener

It’s a long trip into town. Sometimes I read but more often I just let my mind wander. I watch the world outside passing by and listen to the world inside. I overhear intimate things.

Two women sit behind me. I do not see them. I do not look. I imagine. They regather a broken conversation.

‘…and then he dropped me.’

‘God. No!’

‘Yep. Just like that.’

I imagine the emotions of the women. The anger. The sorrow perhaps. The righteousness of having been wronged.

‘And I thought he was reliable.’

‘Yeah, so did I.’ The voice is more rueful than sad. I’m sure she is beautiful. Undeserving of such treatment. I would never. No never.

There’s a commotion as passengers bustle on and off.

‘…and now he’s with Trish.’

‘You’re kidding. But she’s…’

‘I know. Not up to his standard.’

‘Actually I was thinking of yours.’

No. Not your standard at all.

The woman laughs.

I want to tell her she deserves better. I want to turn but I’m paralysed.

‘Quick this is us.’ The pair scuttle off the tram. I watch her friend helping her hobble to the academy. The National Ballet—I pass it every day. Her hair is in a tight bun, her foot is in a cast.