Embankment 2

Her eyes spelled disaster. She, as well as he, had risked enough just by meeting, making sure to be as far as possible from normal routes.

She had told him little of her llfe, choosing to keep it in a locked closet, holding the key close to her chest.

He had followed her lead, not the other way around. His nerves were already shot. Marissa could not know.

His three children could not know.

His colleague could not know.

This would be his forever.

A trap he had set himself. As both bait and animal. 

And as he woke to realisation of her identity, a new national heroine after the incident, it also dawned on him that she was more brave than he.

He remembered it had confused him at first, her bravado.

She calmly walked up to the wiry young man, strapped to the nines with explosives and a mobile phone attempting to calm him through the vomit of foreign expletives.

She yelled at him to stop, all the while backhanding her lover to the rear of the train.

Others had also tried to move, but were blocked by the mini melee.

And as the final cries went up, and he opened the door at the end of the carriage, he watched through the window of the door.

The short flicker of orange and black. The fireball spreading through the carriage. 

Burning everything in its wake.

The mother exhaling for the last time.

The child, fearful of her mothers reaction.

The school boy trying to shield himself pointlessly from the blast.

The old man, waiting patiently for the event horizon.

And in that moment, that reach, the closed door, the cold sleepers underfoot, rock and steel. All becoming a friend and saviour.

He realised, in this opening moment of the mind, this truth.

All memory depletes over time, but rarely does it return with such vigour. Nothing embellished. Nothing amiss. All true.

He had, in a moment, awaited his death with his one time lover.

Whose face was now a poster child for a government in retribution, a social outrage and international mourning.

Marissa had always sensed something. She had watched and listened to her husband over time, exploring his lost memory and piecing the puzzle together.

A lover.

Who had saved him.

And was now soaked into every moment of his life. 

He could not redress with any pithy argument or story.

He could feel the walls closing in and the floor and ceiling encroaching his personal space like a small box winding tight.

“John” said Marissa.

John stumbled his mind from its thin aperture and looked at his wife of 16 years.

His soul shattered. His mind unbroken, and broken at the same time.

“Yes.” he said.

Like he was already agreeing to what had occurred, and giving thanks for the woman by his side.

And the life that he was about to ruin.

Justin Batchelor