Chapter One

Collar itches. Baby sitting on woman’s lap staring at me. Eyes brown. Woman, probably mother, has a nosebleed. She isn’t wiping away the blood. Four people are entering the waiting room. Three men, one boy. Boy around twelve. Shorts, satchel, book. Cap doesn’t sit on his head properly. Three men do not seem to know each other. Dressed the same though. Dressed like me. Stiff collar. Suit. Briefcase. It is hard to write this with baby staring at me. Mother’s nose still running. Three men are now staring at me while I write. Young boy is standing in middle of room looking at wall. The train is late. Days late maybe. The clock is broken. Stuck at ten-to-ten. My watch, broken. Stuck at ten-to-ten also. Missing Lucy. I am hungry. Nothing in my pockets. Gave the stale bread to the beggar outside the station. He thanked me. No teeth. Dead eyes. Only three fingers. Didn’t know where he was. Didn’t know when the train was coming. Saw him pacing around a few days ago. Then the clouds came. Haven’t seen him since. Probably dead. Will go outside to check later.

Man dead. Hat on the floor, shadow burnt on the wall. Shadow had three fingers. Dead. Probably for the best. Train still not approaching. Sand and dust extra red today. Copper red. Model-T over by the gas pump is upturned. The man who drove it long since gone. Don’t know how automobile upturned. No footprints or signs of collision. Dust cloud coming in. Baby asleep on woman’s lap. Blood from her nose has dried around her mouth and chin. She is staring at me as I write. Three men and young boy still in waiting room.
Dust cloud all around waiting room. Visibility zero. Man sitting next to cracked window has sand on his shoulders. He doesn’t move. Sand is piling up. He is falling asleep. Head nods as lethargy takes over. Days since anybody spoke. Throat is dry. Stomach in pain. Boy has opened satchel and is playing with toy soldiers on floor. One soldier has just shot another. He is standing over the fallen soldier. Soldier is now firing into dead soldier. Dead soldier is twitching. Boy has no expression, just shaking both soldiers. One firing on the other. Woman is looking at me as I’m looking at boy. What does she want? How do I investigate her? Things I have learnt about her:

  1. When the sun is at the left window, she bleeds out of her right nostril.
  2. When the sun is at the right window, she bleeds out of her left nostril.
  3. When the sun is overhead she bleeds out of both nostrils.
  4. Her collar is high up and clasped together with a pendant. This suggests that she is grieving. It is too hot to remain like that otherwise. But she does so. Who or what is she grieving for?
  5. She rotates her baby. He is on her lap, but she makes him face different ways throughout the day. She doesn’t hold him close.
  6. I don’t think the baby is hers. The skin tone is the same, but she holds him like a book. Maybe it unnerves her?
  7. Her cataract suggests that she has seen something. Witnessed something terrible or committed a terrible act.
  8. When we make eye contact she clenches her jaw. She knows.

I shall continue to observe. I hope to find out more answers about her. She is intriguing. I wonder if it is the beginning of love? Doubtful.

Young boy and his toy soldier were firing at me! He had a crazed look in his eye. The soldier was shooting me! I pretended to smile. The boy smiled back. He had no teeth and a thick, bulbous tongue. He didn’t notice my fear. I was sweating profusely. That tongue! He is now asleep on the floor. Face down. I feel nauseous. I cannot go outside. Dust cloud still everywhere. I wanted to cry earlier. I am going to try and sleep. I cannot feel my legs. I want to sleep.

I slept after counting to 1000. I remember passing the 500 mark. Then I went to sleep. I remember when I would be asleep by 250. Now it’s 500. Boy is lying on his back. Man with sand on his shoulders is awake. Sand is now swept into a pile in the corner. I am disappointed to have slept through it. Who did it? Who swept up the sand? Nobody has moved. Picture of Lucy and Brekker fell out of my diary. I picked it up. Nobody seemed to notice.
It is the picture I took when she was recovering. She is still sunken-cheeked. There are copper rings around her eyes. Sitting the way she is in that picture, under the gazebo in Brekker’s garden, you would think she would be in pain. Her back is straight for once. You cannot see the hump. There is no pain in her eyes. She is tired though. I should have been quicker to take the picture. Brekker shouted at me, I remember. He called me “bastard” and “time waster.” I wanted the picture to be right. I ignored Lucy’s pain. I ignored Brekker’s annoyance. Now I have my picture and they are both dead. I am glad I took it. I would like to say this aloud, perhaps to the Nosebleed Woman, perhaps to the men, but they all stare at me, deader than Lucy and so I write it down instead. No sign of the train. Dust still outside. Feeling depressed and nauseous.
My nose has started to bleed. Woman smiled at me when she noticed. I wanted to scream. Instead the boy on the floor pointed and laughed. High pitched. A banshee. I am terrified of the boy and his bulbous tongue. I am terrified of his soldiers. I want to die. I want to die now.
I calmed down when I remembered that I am already dead. The train is coming. It must be.


Graham Thomas