Our Stop - Laura Jane Williams Page 0,1

late is absolutely unacceptable!’)

‘Wait! No!’ she squealed. Nadia was four quick steps away from the train, but at the speed she was hurtling was about to go face-first into closed doors unless somebody defied Transport for London’s rules and held them open. ‘Waitwaitwaitwaitwait!’ Her voice reached a pitch only dolphins could hear. As if in slow motion, a hand reached out and pinned the door back, meaning that Nadia could stumble aboard just as her knock-off Ray-Bans hit her face and she was temporarily blinded by their darkness. The doors snapped shut behind her. She’d made it. Just.

With a bit of practice, Nadia thought, suddenly smug, muttering a thank you and grabbing the only free seat to sit and slurp at her coffee, I might be able to nail this new routine. It had taken cajoling and effort, but so far, in the whole hour and half she’d been up, she was impressed to reflect that she’d stuck to her self-imposed rules. Ninety minutes on plan was better than ninety minutes off-plan, after all.

The New Routine to Change Her Life comprised several things besides making sure she was on the platform at exactly 7.30 a.m., to catch the tube from Angel to London Bridge. The other rules included:

AT LEAST seven hours of sleep a night, meaning bed at 11 p.m. LATEST – and that meant lights out and eyes closed at 11 p.m., not getting to bed at 11 p.m. and spending three hours doggedly refreshing the holy trifecta of Instagram, Twitter and email and then wondering why it was so difficult to get up when the alarm went off the next day, whilst also fuelling the suspicion that everyone else’s life was far easier and more beautiful than hers.

Up at 6 a.m., to meditate for fifteen minutes, then lighting a soy-wax scented candle as she got ready for work with calmness and serenity, in the manner of Oprah, or perhaps the Duchess of Sussex.

Swapping a station-bought, triple-shot, extra-large cappuccino that Nadia was sure gave her spots – she’d seen the trailer for a documentary about the hormones in milk – to make a bulletproof coffee in a reusable cup for the commute. She had heard about bulletproof coffees via a Hollywood star who documented her life and workouts on Instagram in real time and who added unsalted butter to her morning espresso to regulate her energy levels and poop schedule. (‘That’s like making a green smoothie with vanilla ice cream,’ her mother had suggested in an email, which Nadia had, regretfully, no scientific retort for. ‘At least I’m doing it in an environmentally friendly KeepCup,’ she’d settled on, wondering if, actually, her mother was right.)

Keeping faith in romance: just because her ex Awful Ben was, indeed, awful, it didn’t mean she had to think all men were, and it was important to keep believing in love.

Nadia also planned on getting to the office before everyone else each morning. She worked in artificial intelligence, developing technology that could think for itself and replace basic human activities like stacking shelves and labelling boxes, with a view to eventually making the warehouse arm of her company totally AI-run. She intended to always get a head start on reviewing the previous day’s prototype developments, before the inevitable meetings about meetings began, interrupting her every six to nine minutes and destroying her concentration until she wanted to scream or cry, depending on where in her menstrual cycle she was.

Her morning’s self-satisfaction didn’t last long, though. The train stopped in a sudden, jerky movement, and hot brown liquid hurled itself from the lip of her KeepCup, soaking into the hem of her light-blue dress and through to her thighs.

‘Shit,’ she said again, as if she, a woman in charge of a team of six, earning £38,000 a year and with two degrees, didn’t know any other words.

Her best friend Emma called Nadia’s coffee addiction an attitude adjustment in a cup. She needed caffeine to function as a human. Groaning outwardly, pouting at the blemish she’d have to wear on herself all day now, she chastised herself for not being more sophisticated – she’d never seen Meghan bloody Markle covered in her breakfast.

Nadia pulled out her phone and texted her best friend Emma, wanting a bit of Monday-morning cheerleading.

Morning! Do you want to go see that new Bradley Cooper film this week? I need something in the diary to be excited about …

She sat and waited for her friend’s reply. It was hot on the train,