Find a Muse in the Masters
Write a new piece using Nighthawks by Edward Hopper as your inspiration.
Wynyard Station at night. The shops on the concourse are closed, the flower sellers gone. Even its echoes are hostile, the million voices of the day stifled by the scruffy, seedy secrets of its nights, the lingering traces of coffee and donuts and surging humanity lost in the smell of age and dust.
I used to know it well. Two nights a week I scuttled through its crawling shadows and took the escalator still rumbling emptily down to its depths, where trains roared in from another world to collect the human detritus while cleaners collected the Maccas wrappers aboveground. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I worked my third job – receptionist at the evening clinic in a hypnotherapy centre.
Central Station was better: still cavernous, still echoing , but there were always people about. That’s where I changed trains, and armed myself with coffee to keep me awake on the hour+ journey still to come. Fatal to go to sleep. I did it once, and woke up two stops too late. No return trains anytime soon, not a taxi in sight. The walk back was long and painful.
I can’t say I remember those days with fondness, but I do remember them. At 5.30 each morning, I parked my car in the all-day car park reached by a dirt track through the scrub above the railway tracks. On Monday mornings, the carriage was loud with stories of drunken weekends and domestic crises. By Friday, we drooped, we early commuters. Three nights a week, I left work at 6pm – lucky to get a seat, at that hour. On late nights, I always got to sit, but there were other pitfalls: the drunk who could empty a carriage in no time flat; the bored commuter up for a chat. And then the walk to the car. If it was raining, the shoes came off. Cheaper to damage the feet than the shoes. And if it was dark? I do remember being escorted to my car, one night, by a kindly chap who’d seen the man who’d just passed me measuring me up for a quick mugging. (He’d have been bitterly disappointed with his haul, poor fellow.)
But on the whole, society was safer then. Or perhaps we just do what we have to do because we have to do it, and there’s no point in spooking ourselves. Either way, I survived. We usually do. Unless we don’t.