The exercise – Write about a train journey.
She has taken the same train, sitting in the same carriage, every day for years, on the way to the city.
Every morning before she buries her face back in her book, she looks up at each station to see if the regulars are getting on. That familiarity is reassuring to her.
Over the years she has seen people come and go and she has seen the changes brought on by time on those that have been taking this journey for as long as she has.
She notices someone not showing up for a while, only to see them reappear a week or two later. Ah, they are still here, they were just on vacation.
Occasionally, she also notices that someone reappears after a long absence, looking thinner, older or not as healthy as they used to. She wonders what was wrong with them.
She has spotted engagement rings appear on fingers and she has seen wedding rings gone.
She sees the pregnant bellies of women grow, some come back after a few months, some don’t.
A while ago the distinguished, always immaculately dressed older man that sat with his Financial Times every morning was gone. She presumed he had worked for a bank or other financial institution and that he has now retired.
There’s the woman that every morning goes through exactly the same ritual, she takes her make-up bag out, applies foundation, then eye shadow, mascara and lipstick.
Then there’s the guy that used to do the newspaper crosswords and now taps away on his phone.
These are people she see every day, all familiar faces, yet apart from the minutes she see them on the train and what she assume about them and their lives, she will never know anything else about them.