Puffs of smoke try to escape the wide brim of his Stetson,
curling in the still heavy air.
They form spirals and coils,
writing messages in a strange alphabet.
I try to form pictures from the tendrils,
desperate for any glimpse of a future I seem to have no control over,
but all I see are white horses galloping across an endless blue expanse.
A tinny voice over the speakers,
“Just to confirm, this is NOT the Dundee train.
The Dundee train is the one in front.”
An older man in a high-vis jacket,
“Excuse me, miss, but the Dundee train is the one in front.”
Me, a surly girl with a Pikachu t-shirt, and a 50 tonne laptop,
“I’m not going to Dundee.”
A middle-aged WASP. I imagine she’s from Pennsylvania. I know she’s on the wrong train before she opens her mouth. There are no tourist destinations where this train is going.
“Excuse me, does this train go to Leuchars?”
I see her eying my red hair and try not to sigh,
“No, that’s the Dundee train. The one in front.”
“There is no train in front of this one.”
“Well then, I guess you missed it.”
The round table is adorned with jewels of red and green,
peppers and olives and pastries and meats.
Don McLean croons softly in the background,
as he talks about guacamole and she talks about her weekend off.
The rabbit stares longingly at the table,
stuck behind thin metal bars,
as the summer breeze rustles the leaves of the dead plant on the windowsill.
Office workers wilt in crumpled white shirts,
children giggle as they trundle past on wobbly bikes,
tourists walk with jackets tied round their waists,
obviously unprepared for the hot summer of a cold country,
joggers plow past, punishing themselves,
so they can look good by the pool in Majorca,
and the old dog pants as he stumbles behind his sprightly owner.
The platform is blanketed in blessed shade,
the train is late, and it is too hot.
A middle aged woman covers herself in suntan lotion.
A young man speaks a foreign language on the phone,
perhaps calling to tell someone he’s going to be late.
A woman in a high-via vest walks up and down the platform,
watering the flowers with plastic containers filled with water.
The grass is so green,
like those old colourised black and white photos,
where the sky is impossibly sapphire.
The grass is dotted with the occasional tree,
with green and burgundy leaves reaching into the clouds.
But in the distance, among cards and plant pots,
lies several bursts of stalked sunshine.
Swimming through the motionless air
that hangs heavy on burned shoulders,
comes the distant song of the pipes.
With no wind to snatch the music away,
it rings out, slightly muffled by the heat.
And behind the band, there’s a soupy mix of bright colours,
which take the form of children as they near.
Sitting in a pink plastic pot,
on top of a soil stained plate,
there is a gnarl of dead branches,
surrounded by shrivelled brown leaves.
But in the centre of this decayed mass,
is a single, bright green shoot,
topped off with a small flash of pink petals.
Little brown masses litter the slope beside the track,
repopulating what once was barren.
For years, the warren seemed abandoned.
One of the home owners probably complained.
“They dig up my garden.”
“They drive my dog mad.”
But they were here first,
before your house was built,
before the railway lines dissected the countryside.
And when we are nothing more than bones in the ground,
there will still be rabbits hopping over our graves.
Listening to the songs of yesterday,
I laugh at memories of impromptu dance routines,
pretend music videos and friends to sing the chorus with.
But the next song starts with a few bars of synth,
and different memories emerge from the fog.
Dancing in the kitchen, boxing with oven gloves,
sitting under the apple tree, going to the Witch’s House,
naps in the afternoon and Sherlock Holmes,
listening to this song in the thick air of the Spanish night.
“This is the best dance anthem ever recorded.”
That’s why we played it at his funeral.