This is material cut from my memoir in progress, Six Years in Slovenia.
Brestanica. I arrive at the train station later than I wanted, I meant to get up earlier. The waiting room was full and she was in it. I greeted the room with “dan” but no one greeted me in return. Whenever this happens, I can assure myself that I have kept my side of the social contract and that they are being the rude ones. It was as if she was ashamed to acknowledge my acquaintance in front of the other people. She would have greeted me if she had been alone. Maybe the sunglasses are a factor, but it is so stupid to pretend someone isn’t human because you cannot see their eyes.
I don’t want to wait in the waiting room and there is only a few minutes left before the train so I visit the WC and when I return I stand outside. An old man comes by and greets me with some words I don’t understand, but his tone and demeanor are polite. The train to Ljubljana is called. Most of the people come out. She does too. We stand near each other but say nothing. I am afraid she will say something.
Our train, to Dobova, is called. On the platform, we stand a meter apart. When the train comes, we get on seperate cars.
Today is 27th March, I think, and I am in the Brestanica train station because I am going to Krško to see my friend Leo. The mystery girl is here, I greeted her as I came in. She is sitting on the next bench rocking slightly. She does that. There is about ten minutes until the train; we will get on the same train but she will be going to Brežice while I am only going to Krško, city of mystery and glamour. (What glamour? That’s the mystery.)
My eyes are visible through my sunglasses, so I can’t look at her, she is sitting, her face turned in my direction. She has nothing to do, so is watching me write. We never speak except for the greetings; I wonder why this is; usually Slovenes are chatty.
Last time I rode the train home a female attendant was handing out some kind of survey. She asked me something, I was compelled to ask her to use English. She gave me a pitying look, tapped me on the shoulder and left. I felt slighted, as if being a foreigner disqualified me from giving the railway my opinion.
I look up at the clock, she looks to see what I am looking at, then back at me. It is strange, this tension. I feel the weight of her curiosity, but a bit sadistic, as I don’t want to satisfy it. I wonder about the reason for this. I think it is a desire to remain in control of a situation. It would be much less embarrassing had I not to see her all the time. The 11:20 train to Ljubljana is that stupid Polish train, don’t take it, the windows are small, grimy and smoky; only a few minutes left until the train. I am writing so I don’t have to talk to her.
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