Weeds – By Sue Reid Sexton

In the old railway tunnel beneath the park I had one of those moments, the ones that feel like I’ve newly stepped out of a dream. I remember the first time. We were in a Tipperary lane and you’d jumped a fence for a pee and I wondered suddenly how I’d got there and why it felt so odd and yet so ordinary to be defenceless and alone. You were so unusual to me that it seemed likely you were an invention of my imagination, a dreamed-up perfect human. And there I was being undone.

But in the tunnel I knew that you were real. I had your arm curled round mine, your warm voice against the rats, and the certainty that you knew the caprice of my nerves. You were ballast at last, and I, without knowing, was your ballast too.

The sky opened up above us in a long rectangle and we heard the scrape of briefcases on the platform, the turning of a newspaper, the chatter of commuters from all those places further up the track. We disturbed the hidden starlings imitating trains, the ding-dong of announcements for trains long passed. Few weeds had taken hold but up above us ferns were bulging over the edges, framing green the grey sky, dripping last night’s rain onto platforms slick with slime.

I remember we were lingering, unwilling to give up this new place which would never be the same, and as we tramped slowly back, the tiny half-circle of light to guide us, I wondered, was I dreaming this? If I blinked, my dreamed-up perfect human, you could vanish and I, alone and scared, would only have my screams to protect me from the rats.

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Sue lives in Glasgow and has worked as a counsellor, a social worker with homeless people, a costumer-maker, boat-builder, market gardener and mother. She is the author of four novels, the latest about a decomposing body.

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