I saw you

I saw you today, as I do most days. I was sitting on the pavement watching my icy exhalation as it licked the air like a tongue when you careered straight past me, with barely seconds to spare before your train pulled into the platform. You always seem so flustered, as if the dawning of a new day has caught you completely unawares. Your cheeks betray the exertion of your rush to get ready, your skin shimmers with perspiration. You never seem at peace. Are you – ever?

I saw you today. I was standing near the entrance of the supermarket trying to get warm when you brushed past me. Your gym bag was slung over one shoulder, a sign that you like keeping fit (or at least that you try to). Your practical boots stated that comfort, not glamour, was your priority, as they often do on a work day. Not so at weekends, it would seem – once I bummed a cigarette from you on the high street after a night out with your friends when you were dressed to kill in a mini dress and heels that looked like skyscrapers. Do you remember?

I saw you today. I was begging for money (which I hate to do) but I was starving, what could I do? You were on the phone. Sometimes when you walk past I catch snippets of telephone conversations about bills, arguments with your boyfriend, work worries. Today you were bemoaning your lack of holiday allowance. Do you ever stop to think how lucky you are?

I saw you today. I was slumped down by the bins, drawing my last breath as you ran out of your cosy flat and climbed into a waiting car. You looked happy, for once, and as my own life ebbed away I was glad. You have a pretty face when you’re not frowning. Do you know that?

I saw you. But you didn’t see me.

Image

On the theme of looking but not seeing, I remembered this photo taken on the Mekong River whilst travelling in Cambodia. It was just after sunrise and the man was off to sell his wares to tourists like myself. It made me realise how lucky I was to lead such an easy and privileged life.

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