Lydia's father said she could go with you to Waterloo railway station mind the roads though he said

(in his sober moments he could be quite considerate) and not too near the edge of the platform can't have you falling in front of a train so you took a bus to Waterloo station both sitting at the rear of the bus on the side seats having paid the conductor the fare and sitting there watching the passing views she in her pale blue dress her dark straight hair pale features thin arms and legs you thinking of the steam engines the power and the puff of smoke grey white and she thinking of her big sister coming home in the early hours puking in the bog her mother giving one hell of a loud scream of abuse and her father saying O give the girl a chance and Lydia turning over

in the double bed dreading her sister's arrival stinking of sick hanging off the side of the bed with a bucket beside throwing up what was once inside the bus arrived and you got off and you said hang on to my hand we'll cross together and so she held your hand her thin bony fingers wrapped about yours her hand cold thin nails chewed got to keep an eye on you your old man said you said and you crossed running to avoid the rushing traffic and once across she said that man next to me on the bus put his hand on my thigh quickly but then we got off and I didn't know what to say she added you should have told me you said she looked anxious and bit her lip no matter now too late but if you see him again tell me and we'll get

the bugger you said she nodded and so you walked into the station past crowds of people and porters pushing trolleys of luggage or mail by the tall copper with hands behind his back and on to the platform and took a seat together to watch trains and hear the sounds and smell the acrid smoke and engines come and leave sense the overpowering sounds of released steam and whistles blown and flags waved and passengers boardings and disembarking and you taking a side view of her sitting there anxiety in the features of her face her hair straight and well brushed she unaware you gazed and took it all in and she thinking of her sister's moans and occasional vomiting and she hardly sleeping and now here watching trains you beside her in your short

sleeved jumper and cowboy shirt and jeans and sniffing in the smell of smoke and steam and listening to the engines start up and sense the thrill of power in the huff and puff and she for once happy just being there far from her sister's snores and her brother's tease here to be with you and be as she please.

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