The rain drummed on the glass roof of Glasgow Central Station. A man and a woman dodged through the crowd and entered a dully lit bar. They sat at a table beside a full-length window that looked out on the bustle. Their train to Carlisle was due in twenty minutes.
“Want a drink?” the man asked.
The woman slipped off her coat. “I’ll have what you’re having.”
She frowned and snatched up the menu. “I’ll have a Glenfiddich.”
“Still pretending you like whisky?”
A smile traced her lips. “Doesn’t everyone?”
The man called on the server and placed their order.
Gazing out the window, the woman cupped her chin in her palm. Fingers tapped a beat against her cheek. The server returned, placing the whisky before the man and wine by the woman.
Switching them around, the man took a long draw of wine. The woman ran a finger over the rim of her glass.
The man set his down. “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“We’re here, aren’t we?” she replied.
“After everything…” His attention moved to the window, thumb and finger pinching his bottom lip. He sighed, dropping his hand to the table. “We just don’t have to. She’s the one who asked for this.”
“But you want to?”
The man glanced at his phone. “Thirteen minutes.”
She stared at the amber liquid as it swirled around her glass. “We just have to say goodbye. Then we don’t have to think about her anymore.”
“I haven’t thought about her in years.”
Her eyes flicked to him. “That’s not true.”
“You talk about her when you’re drunk.”
He leaned back, folding his arms. “How would you know?”
“Your wife told me.”
“Why would she tell you that?”
“When she worries, she messages me.”
“She shouldn’t worry.”
“Wives worry. That’s what we do.”
“Still, she needn’t bother you with it.”
“Who else is there?”
The man checked his phone.
She reached out and laid her hand on his. “Dad would have wanted us to do this.”
“Did you know he loved watching trains?” he asked.
“He took us to the station when we were kids.”
Her glass paused at her lips. She lowered it. “That’s not why he took us.”
“Why else would he hang around a train station all day?”
She stared at him. He stared back. Brow furrowed.
She set down her glass. “Hope.”
His expression twisted, as if she had said something horrific. He clutched his glass, plum liquid sloshing, and chugged it. The base thudded against the wooden table. “What kind of life is that?”
She shrugged. “Some people need it.”
Outside the bar, passengers met loved ones. Smiled. Chattered. Mothers embraced daughters. For a moment, the woman let her mind drift to that first day of primary school, when she received the hug she needed. Loving and soothing, it had never felt like goodbye.
He checked his phone again. “We best get going.” He eyed his empty glass. “Does the train sell booze?”
“We’re on our way to the deathbed of the woman who abandoned us as kids.” She stood, pulling on her jacket. “I made sure of it.”