Cambridge to Bristol

8:15 AM: The alarm goes off on my iPhone to let me know I have one hour before class. A quick glance at the phone’s calendar reminds me today is July 28th. My brother would be 30 today, if he were still alive. But he’s not. I won’t let a date ruin my day. I’ll only think positively. I’ll make today a good day. 

3:54 PM: My train departs Cambridge for King’s Cross. I’m meeting my friend Kate at Paddington and together we’ll travel to Bristol to meet our friend Polina and her boyfriend Ed to celebrate his 23rd birthday. I’m going to have fun tonight. 

5:02 PM: 300 meters from St. Pancreas. Trains stops suddenly. Lights flick off. Information screen goes black. People look around incredulously. The adolescent red head in front of me peers between the seats and I widen my eyes and shrug my shoulders as we make eye contact. Stuff like this probably happens all the time on trains. It’ll get going soon.

5:33 PM. “I don’t think I’m going to make the 6:00,” I text Kate. “You go on without me. Start having fun! I’m sure I’ll be following close behind.”

6:46 PM: Tension is rising in this small train with no visible exits. Still no movement. Still no lights. Still no information other than the conductor coming on every half hour to say, “I’m so so sorry about this. We’re still not sure what’s going on. I’ll let you know when I hear something.”

7:01 PM: My stomach is rumbling like thunder and thankfully there’s a storm outside I can blame it on. I haven’t eaten since breakfast. The only food I have is the box of 15 Ben’s Cookies I’m bringing for Ed. I refuse to eat them. I refuse to give them out even though there’s a prep school boy glaring at me from across the aisle. I tuck the cookies further underneath my coat. 

7:16 PM: “Hello everyone, we’ve got a fault on the grid. We’re going to evacuate you here in the next few minutes. Please grab your belongings and make your way to the front of the train.”

7:27 PM: I toss my possessions to the man in orange standing on the tracks before crawling down the ladder out of the conductors cabin. I anxiously grab my things and pace down the railway . I WILL make the 8:04 train from Paddington. 

7:34 PM: Arrive to random tube station. Looks more like Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing. This isn’t going to work. Couple clicks of my phone and Uber is en route. 

7:38 PM: “Hi Sir, I’m in a huge rush. I’ve got to make an 8:04 from Paddington.” “Okay, we’ll go fast!” He slams on the gas. Finally, the superhero I’ve been waiting for. 

8:03 PM: Jump out at Paddington, sweating down the back from the reckless ride I just survived. Grab my things, thank the driver, and BOLT into the station.

8:04 PM: Train departs. I watch from three feet away. Next train isn’t for an hour. At 3 hours, it’s the longest train of the day. I am defeated. 

9:01 PM: I’m checked into a cheap hotel near the station. Screw you universe, I tried to make it a good day. I’ve eaten three of Ed’s cookies. 

9:29 AM, the following day: “She’s finally here!” My girlfriends embrace me like I’m returning from war. “Ben’s Cookies! Thank you. This box is huge, how many did you buy?” “Just 12.”

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