The train slowed again. Corinne chewed her lip, face pressed against the glass. Gnawing dread was eroding the joy of the day. Shouldn’t have stayed for that last coffee. As always, she’d been seduced by Zoe’s easy manner, her smiled assurance that another few minutes wouldn’t hurt. Should have caught the five past like she’d promised. Now she’d pay for it. She willed the train to pick up speed, but it merely sauntered.
He would be home by now. Would find no dinner in preparation. Would be cursing, slamming doors, searching the house for her. Corinne pulled her coat a little closer around her throat.
Behind her came raised voices, an echo of her thoughts. Corinne swivelled cautiously and glanced back between the headrests. She’d thought she was alone in the carriage, but there was a smaller compartment at the back, sectioned off by a sliding door. A couple, both standing. Shopping bags all over the floor, tins rolling under the seats. The woman was screaming. The man’s arm was raised.
Corinne drew back, shut her eyes, put her hands over her ears. But the shouts and screams continued inside her head like a memorised soundtrack.
This is how they get away with it, she told herself. Because everyone turns away.
There was a thump and a cry.
Corinne leapt up, ran down the aisle towards the couple. Stopped short.
It was the man on the floor. His head twisted up against the door, one arm held protectively above his head. The woman swung a shopping bag at him, something heavy in the bottom. It struck him forcefully. The man’s arm dropped.
Through the toughened glass door panel, the woman stared at Corinne. A trace of an old bruise across her cheekbones, a slight swelling of her lower lip, but in her eyes, something like triumph.
For a moment, Corinne wished it was not a door, but a mirror.