Of course, "Peaches" was not her real name. But somehow no one ever called her by her real name, and I am not even sure anyone would recall it. She was kind of sweet and fresh and - well, juicy. Of course in an absolutely politically correct way, no double entendre or anything. Even after long days at the office she gave the impression of life and joy and nice surprises.
Unfortunately, there is a rule against this kind of people. Office gossip did its work. Peaches dressed too bright, laughed too loud, was too friendly to some and too honest to others. Of course everyone smiled at her and said nice things when she was around. For Peaches would help you with whatever problem was at hand. She would look after your kids or pets, go grocery shopping for you if you were ill or busy and listen to your problems. But as soon as she was gone, they would start complaining. She was not like the others, and the others knew it.
I mostly kept to myself. I had known Peaches ever since she started working here, and I genuinely liked her. Of course, I probably wouldn't have worn the same colours or the same short skirts, but with her it seemed okay. It was simply who Peaches was.
At some time, however, Peaches became aware of the stories that had started circulating. She became quiet and thoughtful, and from time to time she would glance around the cafeteria as if she wanted to find out who had started these rumours.
Summer went by, and autumn started tinting the world. Peaches and I often took the same train home, and it always was a pleasant walk to the station. Sometimes we would talk, sometimes there would be silence. That special day, the sun was shining, but you could taste autumn in the air - old leaves and wet earth and small beasts dying in the undergrowth. Peaches was silent, and I kept going over my shopping list. My family has lots of birthdays in October and November.
As usual, our train was late. We stood at the edge of the platform to avoid the clouds of cigarette smoke the other commuters produced. We could hear the wind rustling the yellowing leaves. The station was the frontier between civilizaton and the woods. Honestly, I am more of a city girl. I don't like mud and bugs and getting soaked in the rain. But I like having the sun on my face just as much as the next girl.
"What do you think goes on in those people's heads?"
And of course I had an idea what she was talking about, but I didn't say a thing. Sometimes the best thing you can do is stay out of it.
"You know, I am so fed up with everything. I don't know why I keep doing these things, and when everything's done it still isn't good enough for them." Peaches paused for a moment. She seemed deep in thought.
I got a feeling something was about to go horribly wrong. This feeling in your stomach when you're riding the roller coaster, and you've had this dream last night about a crash and people dying and everything... I turned around just in time to see her go.
Her green and brown coat was too bright for a respectable office person - or that's what the others had said - and her red and yellow curls had resisted all attempts at a reasonable hairdo. Her steps were determined, not too fast. She walked along the platform until she reached the end of it, and then she stepped down and disappeared into the woods. The colourful clothes hid her perfectly in the autumn sun light.
Right that moment my train pulled up to the platform. I stepped inside. What else was there to do? I never saw Peaches again.