The 7:25 – a Short Story by Justin Sheedy
A golden Sydney winter’s morning, he stood on the platform waiting for the train. Though heading to his suit-and-tie job, being a Friday it was ‘mufti day’, casual clothes allowed. The morning air was still and – rare for Sydney – icy: The kind of morning he had always loved, indeed, longed for every year since a boy, he was dressed for it.
“Love your jacket,” said the young woman.
“Oh, cheers,” he smiled. Though she waited for the 7:25 in the same spot most days, he’d never heard her voice. “Y’know,” he offered, “it’s my favourite thing in the world…”
She looked at it more closely: burnished brown leather and buckles, cream sheep’s wool lining, collar and cuffs. An old-style aviator’s jacket, it looked made for him. “You’re very lucky.”
“Yes, I am,” he nodded, shifting snugly within it.
“No, I mean that you appreciate things like that.”
“Well, y’may as well…” His face caught the morning sun. “All the little things… Life’s a string of them, isn’t it.”
It was a nice voice, she thought. “…Big things too,” she countered.
He sided her a grin, his breath frosting with the cold. “What would you call a ‘big’ thing?”
She saw the 7:25 was on approach. Every morning, she sat upstairs, he sat downstairs. “Well… Love… That’s a biggie, isn’t it?”
“But love goes,” he said. “And leaves you with just the little things… to keep you warm.”
The train glided to a stop, doors sliding open before them. Stepping aboard together, she brushed against the arm of his jacket.
“Had it long?”
“Since my ex-wife started planning for the future, I guess…”
She looked in his face. The rising sun caught the tear in his eye.
As the carriage doors closed, she spoke again. “These cold mornings make your eyes water something awful, don’t they.”
“Yes,” he replied, the train releasing its brakes. “It’s been very cold this year.”
“Up or down?” she said softly, smiling.