pain doesn't need words

I never saw her face.

I had my head bent over my book, reading away the tram ride home. I'd caught a glimpse of her boyfriend, lounging in the stairwell while he waited for the tram to pull up to their stop, but of her I saw only her back before turning back to my book.

Then the tram pulled to a halt, and the doors opened with their customary squeak and swoosh of rubber over wet treads. And hard on the heels of that a new sound, an unfamiliar one: a scrape and crump and thump in quick succession, all of it loud and echoing, and every head in the tram snaps up and around, fixing on the open doorway where she is sitting, landed on the bottom-most step, shoulders stiff with the tail-end of her attempt to catch her balance, neck flexed as she throws her head back and struggles to draw breath or speak or perhaps simply to survive the shock.

There is a single perfect moment of silence, following the clatter of her fall, and then she lets out a raw and primal bawl that stills the peak-hour traffic and brings the tram driver bolting out of his cabin, fast enough to make the stationary tram sway in his wake.

Then her boyfriend and the tram driver and the crowds swallow her, and she's gone.