The Chance Of A Lifetime

You looked so familiar when I saw you standing at the railway crossing as my train crawled past. I looked at you and felt, when our eyes met for that one brief moment, a shock of recognition and a surge of attraction. You were beautiful, yes, but there are many beautiful women, and this wasn’t just that tiny bit of passing lust at seeing a beautiful woman who’s looking back at you. This was something much much more. If I’d been able to talk to you, I’d have asked if we’d met, horrendous and tacky pickup line that it is, and I’d have meant it. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since. Even though I’ve looked for you as my morning train slowly passes the crossing where you stood, and you haven’t been there, I can’t stop hoping, half-expecting, to see you again.

Who are you, mystery lady?


I saw him! Yesterday! On a train, of all places. I saw him, doctor.

Andrew! Who do you think I’m talking about?

Yes, that Andrew.

Yes, my fiancé.

Yes, the one who vanished a year ago.

Yes, the one who no one but me remembers, and who no one recognises when I show them photographs of him.


Because I’ve already told you, dozens of times, and you don’t believe me. You use it as a basis for analysis, as though I’m just another delusional patient who can work through her problems by confronting them. And I’m not.

Because this is real, even though I can’t explain it.

Why? You already know what I’m going to say.


It was July. Andrew’s friend worked for a PR firm who were promoting a weekend music festival in some east London park. He managed to get two free tickets and gave them to Andrew. We weren’t particularly interested in the music – it was mostly dance music and we weren’t big fans – but we went along anyway, because festivals are always fun. It’s that atmosphere they have. So, on the Saturday, we had a really good time. We saw a couple of acts we liked, but no one really special. We spent too much money on overpriced food and drink, and went home happy.

Yes, we went back to the flat.

Yes. That flat.

On the Sunday, we had a good morning wandering around, watching the odd DJ or group, but then in the afternoon we ran out of money, so we queued for an hour in the insanely long line for the ATM, which ran out of money before we could use it.

No, I don’t think that’s a particularly odd coincidence. Have you ever been to one of those festivals, doctor? It happens fairly often.

Anyway, with no money and no way of getting any more, we decided to leave the festival and go home. We both had to work the next day, after all. On the way back to the tube, we decided to stop at a bar for a drink. We went inside and found some seats, and Andrew asked me what I wanted to drink. He said he was going to nip to the toilet first, and then he’d get our drinks. I waited. I waited for twenty minutes, but he never came out of the bathroom. I asked the girl behind the bar if she’d seen him, but she hadn’t, and when we got a male staff member to check the gents they were empty. I tried phoning his mobile, but there was no answer. He’d just vanished.

Well, what happened after that was that I panicked. What would you have done? I checked the outside of the bar, looked up and down the street, everything I could think of. I even persuaded the bar staff to let me watch the security footage.

Yes! Look, how many times have I told you this over the last year?

Exactly. So is there any point in going over it all again, when you know for a fact I’m going to say the same thing I always say?

Okay, fine. Yes, the security footage showed Andrew and I go into the bar. It showed us sitting down and then it showed him going into the bathroom.

It definitely showed him, yes. I’m certain. Yes!

No, it didn’t show him come out of the bathroom.

No, I don’t have an explanation for it. I don’t have an explanation for any of it.

Well, it probably took an hour for me to accept he wasn’t coming back to the bar. I went home to check whether he’d gone there.

Scared. And angry. Where did he go? And why? I had no idea. I’ve still got no idea.

Yes, I called the police on the way back to the flat and reported him missing. They said they’d send someone to the flat to take a statement. But when I got back to the flat my key didn’t work. I couldn’t get in. So then I went to the building manager’s office to complain, and he threw me out. Said he’d never seen me before in his life.

Yes, of course it upset me.

Both. More scared and more angry.

I decided to wait until the police arrived and tell them about it.

No, they never turned up. So I phoned them back and they said they’d never received a call from me.

No, by this time I was terrified. I wasn’t angry any more. So I called my mum – I didn’t know what else to do.

Yes, that’s when she told me that I’d gone missing the day before, and that I’d been seeing you for years. I broke down and hung up and just sat there and cried.

Yes, and then the police came and took me back home and I went into the hospital.

Because people are telling me the last four years of my life doesn’t exist!

No, I don’t think it existed, I know it did. I’ve got proof.

The photos!

Well, even if I didn’t have the photos, I still know it happened. And now I’ve seen him again.


No, not a chance. I’ve always said no to medication, and I always will.

I don’t care if you recommend them to my care team. I won’t take them.

Time’s up, is it?


No, I don’t think today went well, because you won’t really listen to me.

Okay, yes, the same time. Goodbye. See you tomorrow.


You were there again today, looking at me. I’m certain now that we’ve met somewhere. I can’t imagine ever forgetting someone who made such an immediate impression on me as you have, but as certain as I am that we know each other somehow, I can’t place where or when we’ve ever actually met. It’s maddening, and you’ve somehow taken over my life in a decidedly frightening manner. I’ve been dreaming of you, and thinking about you all day every day. And then today, there you were again, stood at the crossing, looking intently into the train as it went past, and when our eyes met, you smiled – the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen – and waved. You waved at me. I thought my heart would stop.

How have you bewitched me so quickly? Are you a part of my imagination, or something? The projection of my perfect woman? Am I inventing you? I must know. Who are you?


It happened again!

This morning, at the same time, in the same place. He was on the train, and he was looking for me, I know it. Oh, it was magical seeing him again! It means I’m not crazy, and whatever this is, this… this history of me being in and out of mental health facilities for years, it’s wrong somehow.

I don’t know! I’m not doubting your memories, and I know you’re real – I’m sat here talking to you.

I know that. But so was my life with Andrew.

No, I can’t explain it. I have no idea how both can be real. But honestly, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I love him! I love him more than life, more than anything.

I’ll tell you exactly what I’m going to do: tomorrow morning I’m going to get on that train, and I’m going to talk to him, that’s what.


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