My grandmother comes out of her bedroom, already wearing beige pumps that give her an extra two inches of power. Her eyes may very well still be red and watery, but the thick kohl she has rimmed them with hides that almost completely. She sees me standing in the darkness of the hall, feet toeing the oriental rug, but keeping my body on the wooden floorboards by the wall, where I will not cause a creak. She doesn’t smile, but instead simply holds her hand out. I go to it, white, thin, soft as pulpy paper, weighed down by the glittery decoration that is a physical manifestation of my grandfather’s sins. Every part of her is somehow weighed down by him.
The train jolts to a stop five times. Each time the wait before they start moving again seems like forever and the recorded voice that comes over the loudspeakers drones on in an almost Texas-slow drawl. ‘Thiiiiiissss stoooooop is Linliiiiiiiithgow.’ The whole compartment smells like stale beer and disinfectant and there is no one sitting near Robbie Lee, just a crumpled up copy of the Metro across the aisle. He has put his garbage bag on the seat next to him and curled up against the window. At seven o’clock it feels like midnight and his eyelids droop as though he didn’t wake up just two hours ago. There is a constant tiredness that licks at him like he’s Sleeping Beauty. He also feels sick to his stomach; the constant rocking is attacking his constitution.
Robbie Lee Porter is not wearing a coat or a sweater or even a long sleeved shirt. Robbie Lee is wearing a button up white short sleeved shirt and he is twitching. It is December and everyone is wearing heavy coats and they have wooly scarves and hats and gloves and children are stomping their feet and everyone is waiting for the train from Polmont. Robbie Lee sits on the green bench with paint chipping off onto the pavement and reaches into a big black plastic garbage bag. He pulls out a beer bottle, clear, and snaps the top off. Maybe it’s a twist cap. Maybe he just knows what he’s doing. He glugs it down and sets it behind him. A train whizzes past. People jump back. The wind it makes is strong and you feel close to death when a train like that, an express train, goes by you, screaming with its silence that this, this station, is not a stop.
“I once lived in a place where darkness and light battled it out for a person’s soul. There were pixies and elves running about everywhere, and it got very confusing because sometimes they were people. You see, I have this theory, that Vikings married fairies and they made this beautiful breed of people that lived in the darkness because otherwise their beauty would blind everyone. Like a curse.”