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Posts Tagged ‘tube’

I ask you a detailed question and your answer is simply No. I laugh hard and try again. This time it’s Yes. You have a gap between your teeth, a belly that rests on the counter. I type in my pin code and you make enquiries about my afternoon. You speak in haiku so I respond in kind. Train northbound waiting, delayed inevitably – by wind or else rain. We try again. I squeeze in a long word where a short would do. I take my ticket. It is finally Friday and I am thinking of words or else sleep.

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Umbrellas become weapons as we fight to the tube station. You elbow me as you pass and I square up, ready to fight. You say, What? I say, What? and we stare and we pause and you flick water in my eyes. I take each of my gloves, roll them together into a ball and aim at your nose. You see my arm draw back, raise an eyebrow and kick me in the knees. Today was going to be a fine day, a light day. As I lay on the ground; many people avoid me, many people try to help.

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A woman jams her buggy into the right hand side of the escalator, trying to manoeuvre the lumbering bulk alongside a series of unyielding bodies. You smile at the child strapped in, opening and closing its fists. Hello, you say as you walk pass. Hello, hello, as you march down the steps. The air in the tube station is thick. You have a briefcase, swing it as you saunter. I’m behind you, direct you to a train. Then the baby comes by again and we say, Goodbye, goodbye. The mother is unaware, busy wheeling her child through streets of people.

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I walk to and from the station, carrying nothing but a sensation of calm, like a rucksack of cool, a handbag of something like relaxation. It’s Saturday and I’ve been in good company. I see you, buying a croissant; a chewing bovine, you. Here, you are waiting watch-watching, then no longer alone. You are shouting on your telephone, such a pretty toy. I see you there, bitterness at your daughter. And you, fingers gripping fresh flowers, expression glazed. I speak to none of you today, but I rise up and watch. To these little things, I will always be open.

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Your jackets are filled for the evening ahead. All three of you carry wine bottles in your pockets, all three of you clutch packages of food, have Millwall scarves around your neck. You laugh deeply, your pink mouth opening slightly as you do, your moustache substantial on your lip. You bare a hundred teeth, yellowing but not quite unclean. You like the cover of my book, I tell you about the author, that she’s a friend and she’s written about the Arctic. Stumbling into me, you grab the rail and not my book-holding arm. We acknowledge this moment with relief.

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We’re standing in the lift with you and your Irish husband, who apologises for touching you in public. You missed the evening showing of Billy Elliot and chose dinner, wine, facing each other in your seats instead. It is decided that we’ve all had pleasant evenings, that we like Chalk Farm, that it’s late and as that there’s a tube waiting on the platform, so we should run. Trapped in the closing doors until someone releases me, I think of how blonde your hair is, how dark your skin, your white stilettos and how different your name is from his.

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Because you must see the world from such a low angle, because your face is a smile and because I was full of wine, I start a conversation. You wear a woollen hat, dense red lipstick and grip your handbag. I suppose it’s tough to be so small, I say. Affection and intrigue cram themselves in me, bring with them a racing mind and heart. Inside, I feel like a house slowly regaining power after a black out, the boiler purring to life, the lights hesitating then glowing, the radio shouting from a disaster zone. You say, It is rather.

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