I am 15 years old. Year 11’s just started and I’m months away from becoming a real person. I’m in English chatting with Phil, Key, Woz and Dave. We’re loving our new status as school Big Bads; men ready… to become men. We’re coming up with ways to celebrate our nearly-ness.

 

“Why don’t we go to Subway after school?”

 

Subway. The essence of real-life America.

 

With salad.

 

Immediately Woz and Dave pull out, for they have snooker club.

 

Huh.

 

It’s fine, we’ll see loads of Woz and Dave when we leave school. Me, Phil and Key are in.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

It is later, and we’re in a boring assembly. We redeem the time by confirming the plan with our eyes. We’re definitely going to Subway after school. A warm feeling bursts through me. And through something else.

 

Something far away.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

It’s home time and I’m at the school gate waiting for Phil and Key. Phil walks up to me with Big Boots. We’re The Big Three, who always walk home together. Except tonight! For we are celebrating!

 

“You ready to go, Dan?”

 

“Yep! Just gotta wait for Key.”

 

“Eh? He’s not in The Big Three…”

 

Key appears.

 

“Sorry guys, I can’t make Subway after all. My mom’s waiting for me.”

 

“That’s fine. We were just walking home anyway.”

 

I look at Phil. Who looks at me blankly.

 

“Nah! You can walk home, Phil! I was looking forward to this! I’ve got to go to Halesowen anyway! I’ll see you all later, losers!”

 

I walk with them for ten minutes until we reach the bus stop, and I catch the bus. It’s rammed, and the door clamps onto my foot as we drive off.

 

It canes.

 

I arrive in Halesowen and pick up a new school jumper. I see Subway, and pop in. And learn how to order.

 

It’s not easy.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

An hour later I get home. My Brother and Mom are watching TV. I plonk my bag down and get a drink. I do not seem shocked. My Brother calls me from the living room.

 

“Dan! Haven’t you heard?”

 

He seems shocked.

 

“Heard what?”

 

“Come in here!”

 

I walk into the living room and look at the TV.

 

And wish I’d dropped my drink. It’s September the 11th, and this was a perfect chance to drop my drink.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

It is 2005. I am 19, and back from Nexus. I’ve decided to stay plugged into Chawn and booked a catch-up meeting with Youth Leader World Renowned (But Not For His Cooking skills) Chef Dave.

 

We’re meeting at Subway.

 

“Do you know how to order?”

 

“Eep.”

 

“Don’t worry about it Dan, it’s not easy.”

 

I follow Dave’s instructions, and come out with a meatball marinara. It’s excellent, with salad. I watch with as a smile as he orders his own concoction. Dave knows food. I decide to mentally write this in Notepad. And wonder why I always use Notepad instead of Word. It’s fonts are so much better! It’s like playing Call of Duty over Dr. Mario!

 

I smile. Nobody would ever be that stupid.

 

Fifteen minutes later I am refilling my Fanta when the shop radio reads the news. Some buses in London have been blown up. It is the 7th of July, and train stations will never have bins again.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

It is 2010. I am working for the government in the best job ever, with the best team. I’m a temp, but I’m treated like a pensioner.

 

I get a text from Mom. She’s in town and wonders if I fancy meeting up for lunch. I clear it with my gaffer The Stick and make my way out of Birmingham’s thrown-up-Tetris eyesore The Cube. I exit the atrium via an algorithm of escalators and find Mom happily waiting in the winds.

 

“So Dan, where are we going?”

 

“I thought we’d go to that Subway over the bridge.”

 

“Sounds great!”

 

We arrive, and I teach Mom how to order Subway.

 

“Gosh Dan, that’s not easy!”

 

We chat and enjoy the virtues of my amazing job. I tell her about Rita, The Plattinator, Sally and The Stick and she smiles. A thought strikes me.

 

“D’you know? The two times I’ve been to Subway, really bad things have happened.”

 

“Really?!”

 

“Yeah. First September the 11th and then the July 7th attacks in London.”

 

“Gosh, Dan! Do you think something’s going to happen?”

 

“Nah. It’s just a hilarious… well, bad… coincidence.”

 

We finish our lunch and I head back to work.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

I have just pulled out my last hair speaking on the phone with BT when section honcho Steve comes by.

 

“Hiya Dan, can I have a word?”

 

Steve’s great. He can have nine words. I follow him into the meeting room. It’s hilariously long for a 2-man meeting, but the size of the table befits the news he has for me. I can sense that something’s coming.

 

This can only be good.

 

“Basically Dan, our hands are tied. We’ve put this off for as long as we could but we can’t afford to keep on any of the temps. Friday will be your last day, I’m afraid.”

 

Oh. I shut my face. Somebody’s ripped out my insides. Obviously it was Steve, but he’s hidden them brilliantly. Nobody would ever believe me.

 

I return to my desk, and give up trying to make sense of an Expotel invoice before taking an early, demoralised finish.

 

I walk the long walk home.

 

Past Subway.

 

I stare at it.

 

And spit.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK!!!

Dr. Mario! Why All Doctors Want To Become Doctors

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Comments
  1. Jen says:

    Dan – this made me both happy and sad – I like the way you wrote it – my subway story involves an armed guard and a search party for myself and Amy in Lahore (- yes that’s Pakistan!) – next time I see you I’ll tell you if you want!

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