I am never sure that I meant to do it. I was very depressed and not really in my right mind at the time. Life seemed grey and bleak, an endless trudge through pointless days and empty nights.
After Joseph my lover of thirty years died, I really couldn't see the point in going on, but I did for a while. People checked up on me. I said I was fine and gradually they left me alone to rebuild my shattered life.
One rainy November day I was waiting on the platform for the tube long after all the other office drones had gone. I used to work late, better than going home to an empty flat. I thought to myself why not! Just end it, the pain will go and you can be free.
I'm not sure that I made a conscious decision to jump, my feet just took me that way. It seemed the easy thing to do. I heard it rumble through the tunnel toward me. I took off my glasses and stepped out but someone grasped my arm hard.
He was small, wearing a shabby trench coat at least two sizes too big, and a hat, a battered trilby. He looked like he had just escaped from an old detective series of the 1950s. He shook his head and pointed as the train pulled in and stopped.
The first carriage was full of people. All ages, all shapes and sizes. Some of them were distinctly odd. One or two looked like they might have been sitting there for quite a while. Some were asleep, others were chatting to their neighbours.
The little man smiled and waved a hand. "My failures" he said. I stared in horror "Don't look so shocked" he told me." This is a train of the dead, each one a jumper. You can join them on their endless ride if you want, this is your chance."
We have stepped out of time for a moment so that you can have a little think about it. "Your choice, you can grasp at life and hang on to the end or you can let go and end it now, it's really up to you Dave."
The doors opened, nobody said anything about minding the gap. I could see that there was an empty seat between a young man carrying a violin and a large woman with a tattered shopping bag. "Make your mind up time he said. The train won't wait for ever."
I looked at the faces, they all seemed to have accepted their fate. It hit me that if I jumped I would just be going from one grey endless existence to another. I shook my head.
"Good choice" the little man said. "You are my final success story, now I have an even dozen I can move on. One of the others will take my place. Probably Mrs Peabody with the shopping bag, she's been waiting since 1957."
He waved and the tube moved off into the darkness leaving me lonely on the platform. I came around in hospital. Apparently I had taken a whole bottle of pills before I went down to the tube, I don't remember that bit at all.
I had a bit of a breakdown, but things eventually got better. Now I have a new partner, he is a nurse and the only person I have ever told about my experience. He shrugs and tells me that the mind is a very mysterious thing.
I chose to grasp at life rather than to cast it away. I hope Mrs Peabody gets her quota, but I have no wish to join the riders on their endless circuit of the underground. I tend to avoid the tube all together these days. I have been given a second chance at life.
I know now that no matter how bleak it seems there is always something more if you are prepared to hang on and grasp at life with both hands, and I will always be grateful to that funny little man with the hat.
Oh I forgot to say, I found him. I was watching TV in the hospital, some old black and white afternoon film. There he was acting his socks off in a detective drama. Same hat same coat. I looked him up, his name was Geoffrey Tate. He walked out of the studio and under a train in 1951, still wearing his costume. Nobody knew why, I guess nobody ever will.
As the credits rolled all I could think of to say was "Thank you Geoffrey, I'm very glad for both of us that I made an even dozen."
I often get comments saying that perhaps a story could be extended. I have taken this on board and I am grateful for the feedback. I am indeed planning to extend some of the stories into a longer book when I get a bit of time. Meanwhile thanks for all the lovely encouragement chaps x