12 Minutes Delayed | a Prose Poem by Millie Norman

12 minutes delayed. Late for her mum now and texting. Cold on the platform but sweating, sweating because of the Amber Leaf 3-in-1 bought for her by Luca wrapped up in a jumper she’s had since she was 13. 15 now and drinks Sambuca straight from Buxton bottles and today she learned to roll. She didn’t cough. She’s proud of that. Wonders if Luca thought she looked sexy.

Hears her phone vibrate. Feels her insides shake. Mum. Where Are You I’m At The Station. She’ll be livid. She’ll be livid if she knows what she did. Her rage would be off the grid what if she smells it on her what if she looks in the bag what if what if what if. She unwraps the jumper. Slides the pack up the sleeve. Buries it six folds deep. Stands up. Drums toes against boot soles. Cups hands to mouth and breathes out hard for the cold.

The Train Now Approaching Platform 5 Is The 17:23 Stopping Service To Portsmouth Harbour. Calling At she slips into the heat of the carriage. Texts mum i’m on train now not long so sorry. Watches the tension leave one side of her body. Slides onto a seat and pouts as she breathes staring out as the train rolls down the tracks. Wonders when Luca will text her back. She didn’t cough. She’s proud of that. Her insides glow amber.

This Is Guildford. The Next Station Is Godalming. The nerves come home to her and are burrowing. Bites nails and pumppumppumps body spray. Desperate to ask if the smell’s gone away. Searches her body for new places to scratch. Gropes her jumper to feel for the pack. Warm on the train but sweating, sweating because of 30g and knock-off Rizlas.

This Is Godalming. The Next Station Is. She slips out of the yellow and into the black. Steps onto the platform and wants to step back. Breathing shallow. Voice cracks. Wonders if she’s having a panic attack. Unfolds the jumper and arms swing back. Eyes glued to the box as it lands on the tracks.

Won’t get caught. She’s proud of that.

Walks to the car.

Opens the door.

Sits in the back.