She stepped onto the platform, facing away from him, resenting the inevitable end. She did not want to watch him leave, to have that image of him to the last, stretching the physical distance between them until the cord could no longer resist the tension and snapped free.
Don’t look back. Don’t look back.
The electric glow of lamps, spaced in equal succession upon the high bolted arch, funnelled smaller and smaller into the distance where the tunnels began, theirs curves unseen. A dulled hum filled the space, the synchronic sound of motors. At first it seemed to be a continuous sound, but as she listened in, she began to distinguish the differing overlapping revs. It was a successive buzzing that came in waves one after another, building into one, a noise devoid of music, an annotation to that city’s life. Upon it came the staccato of the hammers. Iron heating iron. Like a heartbeat.
She envied that hollow space that would never be reached by pain or longing. Regret cut through the fullness of her lungs. She exhaled. Everywhere this invisible dust filled her nostrils with the black of its soot. Noise. The air was grey with it. Her thoughts devoid of colour as she walked those last few steps to board the train.
A whistle in the near distance called. Laughter, loud conversation without, drowning out the emptiness within. He was gone. She was sure of it and yet could not help glimpsing back for one last time, even as she berated herself for this show of weakness.
For a few moments her eyes were restless, searching him out. He was gone. Of course, he was gone. Then, just as she was about to give up, she saw him: a wild cloud of coppery locks advancing through the crowd.
The doors closed and the train motioned forward, its bowels shrieking with the effort of movement. Wheels crunched the lines below, another moaning sound and off it went carrying her with it. Away, always moving, motioning one way and then another.
This was to be her last memory of him: pounding the doors so that they may open, his eyes affixed into hers.