When I Look out of my window at work, I glance across the road, heavy with imprints of the scars of the days and nights. Cars pass through, people cross, life keeps on treading their path past my window. Like most people I watch them and I wonder, what’s their story, where are they heading? 5am on a night shift is always the time for me where I try and shake the groggy feel that seems to have a tight grip on my mind, like the clearing grey skies my mind is fighting its way to the light! If I am not busy I like to write my notes and glance out the window. London starts to come alive again, it always dies off around 3am, the last stragglers making their way home, night buses dropping their last travellers, students after a night out, after work drinks gone to long. Once the roads are clear It feels like the world preparing for a new day, people resting and getting fit to get up again and start over. At 5 am when I am looking after this particular patient glancing out this particular window, one man is always at the bus stop, he stands and he waits, his briefcase ready and his suit all ironed, I wonder if everyday to him feels the same, getting up at the same time, going to the same bus stop, making the same journey. Maybe he is a lawyer or a salesman, maybe he is a teacher. I like watching him and thinking today is a new day make it what you want. Because every time I look across to my patient and I know theirs days are numbered, does the man at the bus stop know that every morning he is so much luckier than someone else, that someone else is slowly dying and he continues to breath? I always look at him and I hope he knows it is great to be alive. 5am in the morning makes me feel like anything is possible, the light starts to break, streets start jumping to life, each person has been giving another day to make plans, to be kind, to put a smile on someone’s face.
When I finally get relieved I make the same journey I always do home. For some people London morning can be quite grey but I love it. I stop to get a tea for my journey home, plus I always get one for the tramp on the corner of the platform, he sits there and he looks for me now. I have a habit of always wanting to sit in the same seat, I like to wait in the same seat and notice people, some people I know from the mornings, others are time travellers, people passing through my vision, holidaymakers, gap year students, executives rushing to new meetings in new boardrooms in new parts of the city. There is one man, I notice him because he always stands near the platform. A inpatient traveller, he seems to lean in towards the train like he is listening for its beacon, the wheels on the track, the light at the far end of the tunnel. He dresses nice, always smart, he strikes me as a arty person or someone who works for magazines. He likes to wear his shirt buttoned right to the top, no tie to indicate a formal work dress code. He wears denim shirts with long sleeves, he wears them with chinos that he rolls up with shoes that I always think people who go boating wear, bit preppy but not, as he has a tattoo just behind his ear which says something in Latin. Maybe he travelled on his gap year and got the tattoo at a full moon party after jugs of random concoctions and chants of encouragement from his friends. I wonder if he still likes it? His blonde hair is parted to the side in a schoolboy way and it ruffles a bit as the train comes through, if he stood back a bit further it probably wouldn’t happen. I notice him but he never notices me, I think he doesn’t notice many people. Today I sat in the same place and I look for him and I notice him a little further on, away from the real hustle and bustle, maybe he is fed up of all the pushing and shoving. I can see the side of his face, his stubble from a good few days of not shaving, he is standing right behind the yellow line, like a dare, like someone shouted chicken and he could prove them wrong. His head is cast down and I wonder if he had a late night, maybe he is tired, maybe work is though at the moment, maybe he didn’t see the sky like I did this morning and can’t see the day the way I do. I notice him step forward and I get up, the train says 1 minute, for some reason I feel nervous, his little red boating shoe has stepped over the yellow line, no one else has noticed, their iPhones and their iPads, their kindles and their thoughts have them occupied. I walk up to him and his second foot goes over as the trains light can be seen in the tunnel. I grasp his denim sleeve, he flicks his blue eyes up at me, they surprise me because they seem sad. We stand like that for seems like ages but it was probably a fraction of a second, ‘I noticed you, your meant to stay behind the yellow lines till the train pulls in’ ,
‘ ah’ he says and I stay holding his arm till the train pulls away.
‘ fancy a coffee’ I offer.
He seemed a bit taken aback but he said yes, so I took him across the road to the cafe.
‘I notice you most mornings you know, ‘ I say gently
He nurses he coffee, flat white, mixes in some sugar and smiles. The smile never quite reaches his eyes.
‘Most mornings I stand and I think, everyone seems in such a rush, such a hurry and I wonder what for,’ he stares at is coffee still.
‘ah u see I love that, the hustle, ‘ I say, he looks at me amused, a real smile flickers at his lips
‘are u a Londoner,’
‘born and bred’ I put my hands up in mock defence. he looks me in the eye
‘ u say u notice me, why? ‘ he looks earnest
‘you always stand so close to the line, and u dress nice, like a clothes ad, I always assume u have a cool job,’ he laughs at my assumption
‘I am Graphic designer, is that cool?’ He raises his eyebrow, he sounds neither amused or sad, neutral.
‘Yep most certainly, well it is arty, I assumed you would be arty, I don’t mean to be assumy, I like to people watch it is my thing, I watch and I put stories to people. Passes the time, have u got to get to work?’ I ask. He glances at his watch, it has a small face with a brown leather strap, it looks worn, like it belonged to someone once before.’ I’ll say I missed my train, I have just been made redundant anyway.’ He laughs and then he says, ‘thank you for stopping me from doing something stupid,’ I smile and say, ‘bad week, bad month bad year, we all have them, meet me for a coffee in the morning, 5am, I’ll take you somewhere and you can see the way I start my day, I like to start it with a view, a view of better things,’. He casts those blue eyes up to me again, his eyelashes flutter upwards casting a tiny shadow on his cheek, ‘ sometimes London surprises me, people surprise me least when I expect it, ‘
I look at him fully, ‘There is good things everywhere u know, life has a awful way of putting his muddy feet all over ur plans and ur vision, sometimes u just need perspective,’ I pause then carry on, ‘ ur already late for work, follow me.’ I take him out the cafe, he follows me, I smile at him and we walk together side by side. I take him away from he cafe, the smell of coffee and croissants and the early morning chatter, the people making plans with friends and colleagues. We walk towards the river Thames. The air is crisp and sharp, biting but not too cold. We walk past old Victorian townhouses and people walking kids in blazers to their schools, buses and cars whizz past, the day gets so much busier. I take him to the river and we lean on the railing. I glance towards the Thames, ‘I like to imagine the Thames in the old days when people had to get ferris across,’ I say. He looks pensive, his eyes stare out into the distance, a vagueness settles In his eyes,
‘I like to run In Battersea park over there, ‘ I point behind us, ‘ I love running along the river, water gives me a sense of calm, you should try it, it really clears my head. Meet me here tomorrow 5 am, the sunset is really lovely, it always sets me up for the day, I look out and just think how amazing nature is, it makes me feel small in a good way, like a speck on earths awesomeness,’ he laughs, the laughter crinkles his lovely blue eyes, ‘I will ‘ he says, ‘thankyou, this is nice, slowing down, taking things in, I wish things in life could fall into place just as the sun rises and falls,’ he looks at me and he eyes take me by surprise, they crinkle in a smile and we stand for a second just staring at each other, then he leans in and kisses he me. His lips are soft and he pushes gently, his tongue folds slightly against mine, his hands touch my side and slide through my hair.
‘I think ur a angel, ‘ he says ‘you came to save me, thank you.’ He leans back from me and he walks back towards the station, he turns smiles and I wonder if tomorrow ill see him he at 5am or if maybe just someone saying hi within the din of the human traffic, if that was enough.