Writer’s diary: 09.05.2014
You’re minding your own business, jotting notes on an A4 pad. A man takes the seat next to you. You don’t know him. He’s sweating, clearly anxious. You can feel the heat of indecision coming off him.
You ignore him.
You look up. There are others around but he’s talking to you. Looking at you. What you see in his eyes frightens you. But he does not frighten you. It is his knowledge. He does not look insane but they don’t always.
‘Can I have one piece of paper and borrow something to write with? Please. It’ll take seconds. It’s important.’
You hesitate. You look around at the faces staring in your direction. All strangers to you and to each other. You are the temporary entertainment in the boredom of their routine. You tear off a piece of paper and lend him your pencil because it is easier that way.
He writes on his knee. The pencil goes through the paper and he swears quietly. You pass over your pad for him to lean on. He mumbles a thank you. He doesn’t look up.
You try not to look at what he’s writing. But you see that his hand is shaking. You meet the stares of some of the others. They either look away or stare blankly back. No one smiles.
He has finished.
He hands back your pad and pencil. You breathe out quiet relief and hope that’s it.
You cannot ignore the noise of him folding the paper neatly into four.
It’s your stop. You get out. He gets out behind you. You walk. He is matching your pace. There are others around you. You are not properly afraid, yet.
He gets in front of you and blocks your path. He is trying to smile at you but he can’t beat his fear. People are jostling you in their hurry.
There is something in his face. Something genuine. Do you know him? He holds his paper in front of him. He holds it for you to take.
‘Forget your day. Take this paper. Find a policeman. Give it to him. Tell him about me. Make him read it. Make him take it seriously. Lives may depend on it.’
He turns and hurries away. Within seconds you have lost him in the sea of heads.
What do you do?
(Can’t stop. Acer needs me. Time’s ticking. He’s alone, again. Things are bad. And it’s his fault. Failure is not an option.)