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 Born on a Train 



Fernando Sdrigotti






Fernando Sdrigotti 

was born in Argentina and lives in London. He is the editor-in-chief of Minor Literature[s] and a contributing editor at 3:AM Magazine 

and Número Cinq. His first book Tríptico was published in 2008. Shetlag, una novela acentuada, his latest book, was released in 2014 by Araña Editorial, Valencia. He has a forthcoming collection of short stories in English called Dysfunctional London Males.

            She takes a deep breath and stares at me with piercing eyes, for what feels like a century. "You're a selfish cunt," she says at last, rather solemnly, and covers her head with the pillow. "Leave me alone!" she shouts and her voice comes out muffled, filtered by an indeterminate number of duck feathers and dust mites.

            "OK," I say. I should probably say something else but OK is all I can give her right now. Although I shouldn’t say anything: we both agreed this was in everyone’s interest. Fair enough if she's emotional right now, but I won't take the blame for this one.

            So I just go quietly to the kitchen, her kitchen, and look for the coffee. I only manage to find green tea and some other thing that looks like seaweed –– green tea will have to do. I should ditch coffee altogether: it makes me anxious and gives me panics attacks. And panic attacks get me in a bad mood.

            "Do you want some tea?" I shout from the kitchen; she doesn't answer. I boil some water and go back to the room holding my cup, her cup, with my fingers around it. Silke is still buried under the pillow.

            "Are you planning to stay all day like this?" I ask. She doesn’t reply –– I can hear her sobbing; she's clearly not having the time of her life. "Do you want me to leave? I can't leave until tomorrow. I told Věra the conference lasts until Friday."

             "Fuck you. Fuck Věra. Fuck the conference. But most of all: FUCK YOU."

            "You know... This makes no sense, Silke." She digs her head out.

            "What DOESN'T?"

            "This whole scene: it's childish."

            "You’re a psychopath,” she says and covers her face once again.

            It pisses me off that she can call me a psychopath so calmly –– it's self defeating. I leave the room in silence, tip the tea in the sink, grab my bag and coat and leave without slamming the door, just like a psychopath wouldn't. I might as well take a train somewhere and book myself into a B&B and spend the rest of the day watching the telly.




             Soon I walk into the station and buy a ticket to Leicester from one of the ticket machines. The next train is the 11:03am. I grab a coffee from the little bar on platform 2 and take a a seat on one of the benches, next to a couple of old ladies.

            "Yes, he was born on a train," says the one with bluish hair.

            "That's hard to believe," says the one with short grey hair.

            "I swear it by my life. May God take me right now if I'm lying. He was born on a train," she says, "on a Bath to London train. He arrived four weeks earlier."

            “Are you serious?"

            "Just like that. He popped out just like that. I almost didn't feel a thing."

            "It's easier with the second one."

            "Yes. No help; no help at all. Just some contractions and then he was there, crying and screaming his little lungs out, poor Alfie. They even moved us to first class."

            "You're a brave woman, Marge."

            "It was nothing."

            "You say that, but you have to be brave to give birth on a train and on your own!"

            "If I'd known he would turn up the way he did I would've had him taken out."

            "Don't say that!"

            "I swear!"

            I get up and walk towards the other end of the platform feeling sorry for Alfie. Judging by his mother he must be more or less my age. And speaking of terminations: I’ve left my copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus in the clinic –– it’ll be cheaper to buy a new copy when I get to London, when I stop at Foyles to buy something nice for Věra.

            I don't have time to reach the end of the platform: the train arrives. I hop on the first carriage and get an unreserved seat by a window. The doors shut, I hear a whistle, the train leaves. And I leave with the train, wishing I'd been born on a train myself –– it seems like a nice story for your mother to tell her friends. .

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