A winter’s Eve, on the train

Her hair is glossy-pale. Slicked across her head into a neat ponytail with a hint of a curl at the end. Part blonde, part blue, pale blue. Colours of a clear winter’s sky on the eastern horizon, seconds after the sun has set.

Her head is turned to look at the window. She can’t see out.

The night is dark, raindrops cling to the dirt-streaked glass, glisten in the swift-passing lights of the suburbs.

But perhaps she sees something, not nothing.

Her legs are pipe-cleaner thin. Threaded into pale jeans, improbably tight. Slashed, but clean.

One leg, the left, is crossed over the other, her left foot tucked behind her right calf. Contorted. Yet ballerina-graceful.

She hunches forward, one arm wrapped around her middle, her hand grasping her side as if to hold herself together. The other hand cups her mouth, hiding her expression.

But her eyes can’t be hidden.

Sad? Fearful? Both?

She is scrunched. As if she would like to screw herself up, like an old till receipt, a final demand, a rejection, and throw herself in the bin.

 This is the first of four pen portraits I plan to publish, one for each week of Advent, with some ideas for charities to which you might donate. The choices are personal and subjective.

This is a terrible time of the year to be lonely, to be suicidal. There is so much talk of joy and happiness, merriment and family that a person living a grey life can feel like the only one excluded from a brightly coloured world.

The British charity, Samaritans, is especially relevant to this observation on my local train service, Merseyrail. Here’s an extract from the Samaritans’ website:

“Since 2010, as part of their partnership with Network Rail and the wider rail industry Samaritans has trained almost 18,000 rail staff and British Transport Police officers with the skills to help someone at risk of suicide on the railway. Over 2500 have also been trained with skills to recognise the symptoms of trauma in colleagues and to help them seek support.”

The Samaritans organisation does much more than that and you can learn more (and donate) here:


It is more difficult to track down an organisation that works on mental health internationally, but these professionals seem to be doing a worthwhile job, spreading more enlightened methods of treating mental illness around the world – and they can accept donations:


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2 Responses to A winter’s Eve, on the train

  1. Heide says:

    Have I told you lately how much I love your writing? And your big heart, too. Thank you for this beautiful but heartbreaking post. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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