My friend smells like old people. Strong, like the ones whose skin has turned to paper and moustaches are pube-thin. Every night it starts out small, like the stench is only a little way off, maybe half a km off. But then it grows like a bad attitude and hunkers down for the night, sighing whenever she lifts her arms, exposing those moist pits to the rest of the world.

How do you tell someone you can’t be near them anymore, simply because whenever you sit down beside them you’re having flashbacks of decomposing corpses on CNN?

There’s a pretty girl on my train. Got hair thin like an angel, the ashy colour of baby powder in the sunlight. She’s sitting in the disabled section of the train, just to the left of the window. Just far enough that the sun doesn’t sting her eyes, but close enough that it rakes through her hair like a mother’s hand. Her school uniform is vacant of any food and is freshly washed, the lemony scent mingling with the sun, reminding me of summer. Her bag sits slouched at her feet, but she’s holding onto the bag strap like it might somehow slip away from her and straight into the depths of hell. On her other arm, is a cast, as bleak and boring as the expression hanging from her face, keeping her bottom lip securely open. I think someone was sitting next to her, once. The chair next to her is vacant now, but is still stuck in its down position. I wonder if it’s still warm. I imagine an old man sitting hunched over her, black coat dropping ashes onto her shiny, golden hair. Perhaps that’s why it’s powered now. Perhaps the man shook all at once and drenched her. I hope she slapped him away.

She’s quite short, now she’s standing.

She doesn’t walk confidently. Her legs kick out as she walks, knees jittering with the nerve that keeps her arms wrapped safely around her middle. She makes sure not to look back, but if you look closely as she train passes, she’s staring right at you.

Maybe she’s nervous about the girl writing her story from the train.

I would be.