The train station was empty. I was the only person on the platform, no trains due in for ten minutes. There wasn’t silence, more a quiet that made you remember hearing your own pulse when you dive underwater.
Ten minutes. An empty platform. Possibility. I took advantage.
Step three: Stone yourself with grief and recriminations for doing what you did until you’re emotionally broken and bloody, or soak in the satisfaction, smiling so wide your ears hurt.
Selfish is a cranky word, all spikes, hisses and barbed wire. I know very few women who haven’t – at some point – chewed their lip or hangnail, worried that they were being selfish. Not because they chatted to their eighty-five year old neighbour for ten minutes, but because they didn’t talk to her for longer (even though they had to pick up the kids from school, or get to work, or any number of equally necessary and/or important responsibilities). Selfish not because they donated money to the latest disaster fund appeal, but because they didn’t think to give more, and cancel the book they’d pre-ordered which was now waiting for them at the bookstore. Selfish for not going to the temple, Relief Society meeting, and Tupperware party this week when she was PMS’ing so badly the cat curdled, the milk molted and she snarled daggers at everyone who dared even breathe in her general direction, let alone suggested she was mixing her metaphors…
As a firstborn, Daddy’s girl and still a bit of a tomboy, I now applaud my parents’ ability to create a girl’s name out of my father’s: Dale. But it wasn’t always so. My face still flushes when I recall how in jr. high school I would boldly scrawl “Niki King” in all caps across the top of all my homework. My embarrassment burnt even deeper by the teacher’s stern reprimand “Use your REAL name on your papers.” Props to the younger me, however, for pulling Niki from my middle name, Veronica, and for knowing the Latin meaning of my surname, Rex.
Because people in the northwest were generally unfamiliar with what is more or less Mormon nomenclature, by high school I was well used to the long pause that would occur on the first day of every new school year, as the teacher called the roll. It happened somewhere in between Rusty Nail and Dusty Surface.