icsPlatform seven was crowded with people, most wearing uniforms.
They pressed up to the yellow line, waiting as an old train decelerated into the station.
The doors slid open with a loud crunch and passengers piled onto the train.
It was always like this at Brunswick St, people squeezed into the train like sardines before getting off at Bowen Hills.
It is a most uncomfortable experience that I wait through every afternoon.
It’s only made bearable by the fact that I could talk to Tony, even if he is a bit eccentric.
“Hey.” I replied. He caught the train at Central most afternoons.
I knew Tony from primary school.
He was full of the weirdest facts.
This week he was obsessed with hospital statistics.
Did you know that eighteen people are admitted to hospital every year after cracking their skulls on toilet bowls?
I didn’t, until this afternoon.
“Have you finished Ultima yet?” Tony asked.
That was another one of his more annoying obsessions, strange Japanese fantasy games.
For his sake I humoured him and accepted any games he gave me.
“Yeah…” I mumbled. “It has a great twist.”
We pulled up at Bowen Hills and all of the Brunswick people left the train.
“Finally.” Tony sighed.
But I knew he wasn’t relieved because there was more space, Katrina was on the train.
She is the only girl I know of who enjoys Tony’s strange facts, and plays his weird games.
They would talk about the storyline of Ultima and compare characters.
“You see I trained my character to perform…” Katrina would start and the inane conversation would follow.
“Oh yeah I did that too, my character…”
I’m used to sitting next to the two without uttering a word until getting off the train.
It happened every afternoon and I was frustrated with Ultima’s fantastic storyline.
“C’mon guys you’re not talking about Ultima again are you?
Don’t you get sick of it?” I complained.
“Nope.” They answered in unison.
“But it’s so boring, nobody will listen to you after the eight hundredth time.”
“Jeez, what side of the bed did you get up on this morning?” Katrina said, making her patented expression of disbelief.
She always did it, without realising, and it was getting on my nerves.
“You always play those stupid Japanese games!”
“Well somebody’s hostile.”
“Somebody’s always complaining which is probably why they don’t have a girlfriend!”
Tony interjected hotly. I gritted my teeth.
Why did he always bring that up in a fight?
It was infuriating. How could the computer geek get a girlfriend when I always failed?
“Shut up!” I yelled and ran into the other carriage.
I tumbled into a seat avoiding the bewildered expression of the woman opposite me.
I fumed, thinking over and over about how to get him back.
But it was useless as I soon realised.
Tony was right of course, I did always complain. But wasn’t that because of him and his annoying girlfriend?
“Damn him!” I whispered.
The only way to ever get the better of him was to have a girlfriend of my own.
Over the next week I managed to have a conversation with almost every girl catching the train.
Always they were disinterested, giggly or just plain nasty.
Some even refused to talk and turned their nose up.
It was frustrating and annoying, how could it be possible to meet anybody if they wouldn’t listen?
They sat there, talking to their friends about some girl at school who was invariably a snotty bitch.
Tony continued to taunt me. Finally I was so annoyed that I told him to shove Ultima up his @#$%.
That was when he dared me to ask out Caroline.
She always sat at the front of the train, a dainty elfish girl, perfect in every way.
“Fine, I’ll take her to the movies! You’ll see.” I yelled, stomping down to the front of the train.
Later, when I was sure that Tony was out of sight I sat in the seat opposite Caroline.
I must have looked flustered because in her beautiful voice she asked me
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah I’m fine.” I replied.
“Ok.” she smiled.
The way she said those words and the way she smiled entranced me.
It was like she was speaking very slowly, or blowing bubbles.
I just sat there staring. How on earth would I ask her out?
Conversation would be the best way to start, or so everybody claimed.
I looked around desperately for something to talk about when I noticed a billboard outside.
‘Victoria Bitter, I’ve got one now, as a matter of a fact you can get it any old how…’
Before I could stop myself, I muttered something I had heard the day before.
“What did you say?” Caroline asked.
“Did you know that one thousand three hundred people are admitted to hospital every year after
injuring themselves by trying to open bottles with their teeth or eye-sockets?”
I squeezed my eyes shut, expecting Caroline to look at me as if I were something disgusting or get up and leave.
Instead she laughed.
“Where did you learn that?”
“Did you know that snails move on average at 0.03 miles per hour?”
“Two hundred and fifty thousand Americans are admitted to hospital after suffering bed sheet related accidents…”
By Alex Wise