She keeps her eyes lowered, as she’s been brought up to do. She remembers the strap her father used the time her older sister dared to meet his eye during a conversation on marriage.
She longs for her sister now; for her reliable presence beside her; for the familiarity of another woman wearing layers of hand-sewn clothing and headscarf.
Women, even young girls, race past in their summer clothing. Bare ankles and sleeveless tops revealing alabaster shoulders. She wonders at how they do not feel the cold of this place. She hears strange words emitting from the railway tannoy; she understands very little of what the words are saying. She feels the sharp intake of breath of the young man beside her, in his best suit, a tiny suitcase in one hand, eyes roaming the station platform for a glimpse of his uncle, who is to meet them here.
They are still shy around one another. She certainly has not yet met his gaze, nor he hers. She remembers his eyes looked kind when she saw them in the photograph her parents gave to her. They told her of his plans to cross the ocean, to come to England, where a job in his uncle’s business waited. A prosperous future.
She remembers her parents phrasing the question of marriage to this young man as though there was a choice for her to make. She remembers there was no real choice.
As she stands, eyes lowered in sockets edged in thick kohl eyeliner, she has no way of knowing that she will come to respect and, yes, even love the man beside her, whose white socks she notices peek from below his trousers. She doesn’t yet know that she will come to learn every contour of his body. Couldn’t imagine at this point, four days into their marriage at the age of seventeen, when she hasn’t yet had time to dream what she might become, that she will someday delight at this man’s touch.
That she will be blessed with three healthy children, all of whom they will struggle to put through university, enabling them, at least, to have their dreams met.
But today, here on this cold and damp platform, she could happily swap places with the bearded man a little way off, who shakes a polystyrene cup of loose change in their direction.
Previously published on Spelk Fiction: https://spelkfiction.com