Crowded With Blackberries

A man sat opposite with his legs spread so much so that if one imagined him undressed then the genitalia might appear distinctly as a comma between both phrases of his legs’ sentence. His wife sat silent beside him, not looking at her phone or anything, but out at the carriage, and then beyond at the passing kingdom. He sat silent besides his wife, not looking at his phone or everything, but down, thinking and hoping to make a scene of it.
    When I awoke, not from sleep but a shuteyed train reverie of thoughts that cannot be transcribed, they stood at the call of Stratford and I looked out.
    It was the sixth of September, and the kingdom was hot. It had been a miserable summer holiday—everyone agreed—sandwiched between hot sun and sweating concrete. Young families had gone to bed early the night before. Then, on the northeastbound platform, they collected in slivers of shade. There were young men, very young men, boys only, who smiled swimming in oversized blazers. Parents mingled around them, herding into a pose; snapping.
    It gets dark earlier now. The clocks went forward on my birthday, although it goes unprinted, untelevised, no one knows. They keep such secrets from the press, from the companies that print calendars, from the hooligans in control of our wristwatches. The government tries to sweep it under the rug, but I know. I pay attention to such issues. We are the folks who get jetlag in autumn. Here is the colour of dusk that comes into the flat and pushes its way through furniture and past ornaments. Wrap your arms around its chest. This kind of dusk is born quickly and dies even quicker.
    Another boy—with long ginger hair that bounced and bounded off itself—appeared and strode towards his friends. They chuckled at their new getup. Steel locomotives passed by. They complied with their parents. It is twenty-seven years since my mother walked me to the bus-stop; twenty-seven years since I learned you have to ring the bell. Even having lived them, twenty-seven years sadly seem so little to me. At the stranger children, the iron-on badges, I smiled so much I grew wet eyes. The train went.
    Out over the Stratford flats, canals and aggregate yards, late summer mist fell. It had not been long since the cows destined to be meat grazed out over the dew underneath the shadowy sun. Everybody on that train, every human in transit, would come to be buried beneath the memories that made us.
    It was a bit of a rush for the train home and a couple destined for somewhere great sat opposite me in a separate booth where, from over my crossword, I had a substantial view of them and their happiness. They sat down, plumped no less, and started to laugh at something that could not be distinguished from below my headphones. She placed her legs over his, diagonal in the booth, you see, to avoid a lady who sat before them. They pulled out a pair of books from their shared backpack and then, after laughter, they sat there and read, for the rest of the journey until I got off thirty minutes later.
    That whole time I filled in the crossword and wished I was still young enough to read or old enough to remember. Instead I watched them overlap each other like a plate and a napkin or sequins in the barrel of a kaleidoscope. They did not even care that I existed; that was where I wanted to be. I had been there before. I wanted to be there again. Everything in September had memories on it like baubles on a dying Christmas tree. September always passes quickly. If summer ever wanted to commit suicide, September is how it would do it. The funeral would be crowded with blackberries.
    Only today was I walking down the street, an unremarkable street with nothing going on but a steady stream of traffic and a name that meant nothing at all, when a leaf, all yellow and limp, fell at my feet. I stopped. I regarded the fallen leaf. It disgusted me. A man on the other side of the street hocked and spat; his arms were bare. A police van filled with police officers stopped at the cornershop and nobody moved. A garden nearby was being covered in paving slabs. Once upon a time you could smell the sap of deciduous trees down that unremarkable street. On fingers and thumbs, I counted the length of my first day at school.