Strangers

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Yusuf:
I step off the train. A knot in my stomach, I think I left my soul back home. I take another step, I am the first man on a strange alien planet, and with every step I am going further than anyone has ever gone before, a new world. Silence. I can hear every footstep on the white grainy marble echoing, bouncing off the windows above and back at me clear as a whistle.
The silence penetrates me, not even a whisper of a ghost; it's as if the millions of people that walk through here each year, don't exist. They leave no mark. I look around me, white, light, clear glass. The ceilings and walls are all windows, each a twinkling eye to the outside world which sparkle majestically making even the grey skies above beautiful. It seems like this vast whiteness carries on forever like the never-ending desserts of home. A shiver runs down my spine like an ice cube, I am vulnerable. Trapped in the middle of this white expanse between the door and well, nothing. I've missed my purpose. There are beams running along the edge of the walls, jet-black, like a thousand elaborate rollercoaster's weaving in and out of one another an endless race actually more like thousands of interconnected spider webs spiralling through each other, beautiful complexity.
It starts to rain outside. It glides down the glass like tears. I can hear every single droplet being spat down, I half expect it to fall through and onto my face, but the shiver of wetness doesn't come. I look back down the entrance where my train had come through; it seems so far away, a gateway into another universe. I see a man, a woman, a child, faces obscured by the rising smoke, they're crying, something burns in my stomach- betrayal; I can taste bitter sick in my mouth.

Alice:
I love this place. Over the years its become an almost a temple to me. A sanctuary safer than a church- no rules no obligations. It's a shelter from when life at home gets too much to bear. I come here and I feel all that resent drain away, I feel clean again. Complete silence no one reciting scripture no one cutting me with their tongue, no one'.
It's like half way between worlds, a link between the past and the present. I sometimes think that every window is someone or something looking down on me protecting me like a million guardian angels, my brothers are up there so is my Gran. But I know that's stupid. I Know I'm alone.
The rain is hitting the roof sharp and quick no longer the spittle of before. Each droplet is a spiteful dagger, trying to penetrate the glass, trying to get to me; the sharp point becomes blunt and useless upon impact with the shield of the glass. I know I'm safe.
What I like most about this place is that there are no shadows, nothing lurks in corners, and there is nothing there beyond what I can see. There is no one waiting for me. Sometimes at home or in church I feel like the darkness is going to swallow me and I will be lost inside it. It would pull me in like a whirlpool and would forever be swirling around in a sea of nothingness. I think it must be human nature to be scared of the unknown, my mother is. That's why she still sends me to him, even though she must know'

Yusuf:
I don't want to leave this place. I don't want to become another victim of the greyness of the city. I don't want to hurt anyone...
The exit is grey and plastic, a dramatic contrast to the sheer beauty of the rest of the room, or does my clouded judgement just make it like this? If I step through there will be no going back. I will have to achieve my object, what I have been dragged up to do. It's a one-way ticket. I will have forever lost this peace.
It's amazing that a thin layer of glass is the only thing that separates this big city and me. I don't know why it makes me feel so safe, it isn't much of a shield, it could be penetrated with a bullet a bomb. There are endless opportunities and hopes, which will, evaporate like water on an iron on the other side of that door. I am not meant to have hope. I am not meant to have dreams. I was meant to die today.

Alice:
That door is almost taunting me, staring at me with knowing eyes no matter if I'm looking at it or not, I know it's there. I must move away from it. With every glance, at even the thought of it I see a dark room and hear the muffled sound of an organ, ominous- foreboding; incense smothering me, choking the back of my throat, I feel sick.
There is no god.
I gulp in air like water, trying to steady my breathing and forget. That is after all why I come here- to forget everything-to cleanse my mind. The white blankness of here empty's me from head to toe and lets me be a different person. It acts like a pain killer- slowly soothing me into peace. I forget the past and the present moving swiftly on to the future. I can almost smell the freedom. I hear a footstep. An intruder- I whirl round. That door that dark room rises like a dead body to the surface of my mind.

Yusuf:
There's someone there. A girl. Her face is a pale blur, and her long brown hair runs like silk down the back, but not unflawed, it is frayed and dishevelled like she'd been running- or pushed around. I stand legs like lead. Rooted to the spot. She looks startled, almost afraid eyes staring like a rabbit in headlights. She looks like one of them, one of those people on the train. The same look of life in their smiling eyes as they played with their children, read financial times or spoke noisily on the phone. I expected to be shunned and hated because of my race, but a black man with hair the colour of charcoal and a smile like blaring light offered me the seat next to him. I was told they were, as cold as ice that there hearts were frozen solid- in fact that they didn't have hearts. I was told they wanted to kill me, that they were responsible for my uncles' death. I was told they needed to be punished.
I can see that girl's eyes grinding into me now, it's penetrating me like nails hammered into skin. She can see right through me.

Alice:
It's strange how thousands of people have passed through each day and I never minded- before now. It's wrong. This is my place. GET OUT!
I feel violated, betrayed, and sick to the depths of my stomach. I want t spin around and run, run until I cant anymore. No matter where I run to they would always find me, they'd bring me back, back for more punishment. The smell of Mouldy sweat lingers on my nostrils, it clings to every fibre of my skin, and no soap can shift it. The cross at my neck is digging in, burning my skin, and leaving a dark pink scar a branding for animal. A stupid beast- cows don't cry out or object.
I can't move. My legs are jelly wobbling from side to side refusing to obey my commands. That boy looks strange here, his dark tanned skin the colour f fudge a contrast t the grey of outside. He looks strangely like a tortoise: slightly bent over his dark green rucksack hovering over him like an elongation of his back.
What now? Where do I go from here? I can't go home, i never want to go back there. There's nothing for me anywhere; everyone I thought loved me have disappeared like water into dry mud, everyone who remains wants to punish me for their loss.

Yusuf:
They told me it would be easy. They told me it was my destiny. They told me what we were doing was right. But I couldn't do it. I failed. If I leave that door they will kill me, and none will know or care. I am a disgrace to my family, to my religion; I may as well be dead. I will never again taste the fruits of my homeland; I will never feel that cool ocean rubbing with a mother's affection against my toes. I can't help crying, the tears roll gently and as free as the rain falling in the sky above. My mother's face flashes to my mind, she cried when she saw me leave- did she know it would be this hard? Why would they give me an education, give me dreams id Allah's wish was for me to die- to be a martyr. This thing strapped to me is suffocating me, squeezing all the life out of me.
I am alone. I fall to my knees, spluttering my grief to the sky. i see what could have been explode in my mind a fire ball of light -death. A prayer comes to mind but wont leave my lips, it is jarred in my mouth, trapped, my tongue refusing to motion forbidding me to utter what my heart knows it is too late to say. I'm choking on it. God cant save me now,
I feel a hand on my shoulder, a gentle stranger's hand. It grips tightly, a touch of understanding- a mutual human consideration. I haven't felt this loved for a while. It's pulling me up, up, up, out of this world. Into the dazzling stars above, which glitter lovingly at us, lost in their midst. They are smiling at me, their smiles a thousand un-said things. And she is holding my hand.

Alice:
He's holding my hand tight, I can feel the blood draining. With every second, that room grows darker, that smell drifts away, I no longer know the feeling of clammy hands against the inside of my legs, its all more distant. Like a whole other life ago. We are shouldering the burden together, and until the next train comes in, we are safe in our temple.





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