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Second Chance

The last, slow train from Guildford
is lurching through the night.
She reads her smart French novel
in the dim and flickering light.

Her smile, on him once only,
is slow to turn away.
He longs to interrupt the book;
what can he find to say?

Too soon, with creaks and flashes,
the train’s at Waterloo.
He’s wishing that he’d said to her
what faint hearts never do.

She walks straight on before him
down the platform, through the gates,
lost to view across the concourse
as his hopes he terminates.

Remorsefully he wanders
down dark tunnels of the mind:
if he had asked her out for lunch
she might not have declined.

The last, slow train to Edgware
is following its breath.
He stands, a world away from love,
a step away from death.

He boards, turns round — and sees her.
‘Please, is this the Barnet train?’
Then his face she recognises
and jumps on, and smiles again.