Driving home. Late in the afternoon. Tired from a day’s work. Staring ahead into the peak hour traffic, barely moving forward. Mindlessly thinking about dinner and seeing my boys.
Then, I saw her.
Dishevelled blonde hair. Pyjamas on. Green polka dot bathrobe catching the breeze. She was walking. In the middle of the road. Against the traffic.
I was filled instantly with dread.
The traffic moved forward.
She kept walking. Slow. Steady. Head hung low. Never looking up.
I reached the intersection of two major crossroads. As I drove through, she kept walking. Slow and steady, against the stream of cars.
I exhaled in disbelief that she survived crossing that intersection without getting hurt.
The drivers in cars around me were furious, raged, annoyed.
Then, as my car crossed the railway line at the end of the crossroad, I saw her again.
She sat down. On the railway tracks. Right in the middle of the intersection.
In a heart-beat, I stopped my car. Grabbed my phone and ran to her side. In my mind I was screaming “No, no, no! You are not doing this on my watch!”
As I reached her, so did another man. He bent low and tried to speak with her, asking her to move.
She was catatonic. Staring straight ahead. Not blinking. Not speaking.
I called 000. “Fire, ambulance or police?”
“All of them,” I said, “and please contact Metro trains we need to stop the trains!”
I spoke at length with 000. All the while, drivers were becoming more and more furious around us. Their anger completely baffled me. Completely. How could they not understand? How could they not stop to help? How could this be their inconvenience?
I had spoken to the police, who were on their way. An ambulance had been dispatched. The trains had been notified.
She remained perfectly still. Staring straight ahead. Sitting on the train tracks. Her eyes glazed over. Pale and lifeless. She sat.
I was overwhelmed with grief. Pain and sadness. Here was a girl, barely eighteen, at an age, where life holds all possibility, hope and promise. Here was someone’s daughter, alone, wishing her life away.
My heart broke into pieces for her. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms, soothe her and promise her that life is so much more than this. That she is so much more than this.
The police came. Slowly, the girl was moved from the train tracks. Order was restored to the raging, angry traffic.
I do not know what happened to the girl after that day.
I went home. I had a throbbing headache. I was sad. My two little monkeys jumped all over me as I walked through the door. Jabbering away about the exciting adventures they had that day with their Nanna. I stared into their faces and could only see the girl.
How could life break the spirit of someone, so much so, that they could sit, waiting, on the tracks of a train line? How could so few people stop to help?
I prayed that night. I prayed that the girl was safe. That she was with her mother, her family. That this one moment I witnessed was enough to change the course of her life.
I prayed for my two boys. I do not know what their future holds. I do not know what life they may lead. So I prayed that if they were ever to find themselves sitting on a train track, without me there, that someone would stop to help.
Would you stop to help?
beyondblue is working to reduce the impact of depression and anxiety in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience. beyondblue is always there to talk to 1300 22 4636.