Dana sat all alone, head resting against her seat, looking past the station outside the window at her reflection floating above the platform. She couldn’t see her tears in the image. The rain hid them well. The other passengers were more concerned with their luggage and their phones to see her, let alone care that she was sitting, bathed in pain and sorrow, lost in the black of her own mind.
Until this morning, she was just Dana. She didn’t feel special because she just wasn’t. She could have been – she was smarter than she let on, more beautiful than she allowed herself to appear, and funnier than anyone would ever know – but she didn’t want anyone to see the real her. And so, she worked very hard to not be special. It wasn’t easy being invisible. She was very conscious to not say anything profound, when she couldn’t get away with not saying anything at all, always careful never to let anyone remember her. Because if they remembered her when she was not there, she would no longer be transparent. She would be a thought, a memory, a part of someone’s consciousness.
When she thought she might be pregnant, she knew exactly who the father was. There was only ever one. When she found out she really was pregnant, she knew exactly how he’d react. Disbelief. Denial. Rage. And so she didn’t tell him. She thought it better she let him continue to forget her. Before she took the test, she had been well on her way to forgetting him.
Until this morning, she was just a girl. A girl with parents who were never around and didn’t know she had no one she called a friend. A girl who could live life without anyone wondering if she was putting on weight because no one ever saw her. A girl no one would suspect would get pregnant. A girl not equipped to be a mom but who had motherhood thrust upon her by a series of poor decisions and lapses in judgement. A girl with a nameless baby just one day old. Until this morning.
She got on a train three days ago to go a concert with her friend Julia. There was no concert. There was never a Julia. She got on a train three days ago to go to a hospital out of town and have her baby. The baby. In a town where no one knew her, she would have her child and no one would question her when she wrote ‘unknown’ in the spot identifying the father. In that town, she could be someone else and leave Dana at home.
Three days ago, as the train picked up speed, she felt her past falling away. She felt a new start was on the horizon, along those tracks, waiting for her at her stop. For the first moment in her life, she had flashes of hope of what could be waiting for her when she stepped off that train.
This morning in the hospital, Dana looked at the baby in her arms, just hours in this world, and she felt something. There was a spark in her throat and a tingle in her chest. This child she held, so small he didn’t seem real, wriggled in her cradled hands and she watched. She watched the tiny O he made with his lips as he cooed his baby bird cry. She watched his fingers open and close, reaching for something he couldn’t see. She watched his feet kick and push the air, swimming in her arms, fighting against the cruelty of a world outside her body. This baby was the beginning of a new life.
But the spark and the tingle grew intense. It lit afire her throat and tore apart her chest. She put the baby down in his hospital cradle and sat at the edge of her bed. This new baby, this new town, this new life. The thoughts lifted her to her feet pushed her toward the washroom. She sank to the cold floor and looked to the ceiling for answers to questions she hadn’t yet asked.
This afternoon, Dana sat all alone, head resting against her seat, looking past the station outside the window at her reflection floating above the platform. She couldn’t see her tears in the image. Tears for her baby she left in his hospital cradle as she stood up in the washroom, dressing in the clothes she came in. Tears for her baby she’ll never know because she walked through the front doors and hailed a cab that took her back to the train station. Tears for her baby who will never know her because she bought a ticket back home, where she can be transparent, no one special. The rain hid those tears well. The other passengers were more concerned with their luggage and their phones to see her, let alone care that she was sitting, bathed in pain and sorrow, lost in the black of her own mind.
As the train picked up speed, she felt her past falling away.