There’s a momentary shudder, a sudden lurching, grinding metal-on-metal and bodies and bags fling forward as the carriage twists to a halt. Dust billows. Screams ring out. Chaos.

I see nothing for a few moments. Alisia and Pia are in the front carriage—if the train has hit something or derailed…I struggle with the thought of them—what might have happened. I should have gone with them when Pia spotted her schoolfriend up the train.

I find an open door and jump onto the verge. I can see their carriage, flipped onto its side. There are sirens now. Panic.

There’s a window that’s popped completely. I scramble through it, calling Alisia’s name through dust and a hint of smoke. As my eyes get used to the surroundings it’s clear there are many injured. ‘Alisia,’ I call again.

‘Down here, Daddy, quick.’ It’s Pia. She takes my hand. Pulls me past mangled seats, glass, rubble and contorted people. Blood, moaning and a kind of stillness. Alicia is in the doorway that’s now a crumpled floor. I bend to touch her.

‘Thank God you’re here,’ she says. Take off your shirt. I need bandages.’ Beneath her caring hand is a child’s bleeding head. She wraps the wound expertly before turning to me. ‘Are you alright, darling?’

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