Three Stops to Greenwich

Each time she passes through the station, the same flow of thoughts: that film, the character saying that it was three stops from Charing Cross to Greenwich, Mike letting it bother him, Mike showing her the map in the back of his diary, her not caring, them arguing anyway.

But today she isn’t passing through. Today Charing Cross is her destination. As the train slows, her thoughts slip away from her. She steps onto the platform, moves up, out, past the chain stores and coffee shops, onto The Strand, Duncannon, Adelaide, round and back. She is searching for a pop-up a friend told her about the night before that sells seedlings of spruce and pine in decorative pots. The profits help children or build hospitals or both in Africa, maybe. Wine blurs the detail.

She finds it on Bedford Street, barely a shop at all: a pair of trestle tables, a till, a guy wearing a handmade nametag. She buys a Korean Fir in a yellow-and-orange striped tub. She gives it a name. It won’t be ready for baubles this December or the next, but each year it will be taller, stronger, more prepared for the weight of Christmas.

Did you know people could die on Christmas morning? Of course you did. It’s obvious, isn’t it? It’s just not something you think about until it happens.

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