I have been given an exercise to do where I had to use a given sentence ‘I secured the last available space’. I decided to make it present tense and an image of the London Tube came immediately to mind. I wonder what you would have written about?
The Last Crush
I secure the last available space as I squeeze myself onto the eight-forty-five tube from King’s Cross. I hadn’t even attempted to get on the last three. I’m late again. I won’t be late back to my empty, lonely flat tonight, though. Maybe I can talk Cath into a night out without Jack. I don’t think he likes her going out with someone single since they moved in together.
Facing the sliding doors, I hang on to the overhead strap for dear life. Gagging and desperately trying to hold my breath as the man next to me showers hot, thick garlic breath down on me. It snakes its way across my cheek and curls up my nose. Closing my eyes, I concentrate my thoughts on the day ahead. I’ll be pleased when today is over. It’s going to be a bit awkward.
How will Mr Bailey react to me handing in my notice? I can see him clearly, standing up from his desk, eyes pleading, saying how sorry he is. How he didn’t know what had got into him. How he didn’t normally drink at the office party.
I relive, with slight revulsion, last night’s episode. He’d sobbed on my shoulder, spluttering and blowing his nose loudly. The last thing I’d expected from the strict boss who looked down his nose at all his staff. He had told me that Mildred had left him for the window cleaner. She had said that he could give her what her husband never could. I hadn’t intended to laugh but the picture of grey, stiff-lipped, Mildred Bailey being seduced and thrown down on the bed by a hunky, bare-chested window cleaner and whipped by his chamois leather, popped into my head. He didn’t understand what she saw in him. How all the neighbours had been whispering and sniggering behind his back.
‘You’re sho b-beauuutiful when you shmile,’ he had slurred, his glass of wine slopping over onto the pristine, grey carpet. ‘Dooo you …can I…?’ Mr Bailey had grabbed my face and tried to kiss me, slobbering wet lips that missed my mouth as I jerked my head back. Saliva slipping across my chin.
No! I will say. I’m not prepared to think about it. I’ve made up my mind. It’s time to move on. I’ll clear my desk and walk away. Start again.
We’re slowing down, must be Warren Street. The doors whoosh and hiss as they open and someone almost knocks me over, trying to get off. A woman with a small suitcase on wheels yanks and pulls it past me, banging my legs. I yelp and she turns back and glares at me, daring me to say anything. Her creased face, a sunset orange, glows alongside the flames of hair streaked with red and gold. I watch her push her way through the shuffling, suited,penguin colony desperate to board. There isn’t room, a voice inside my head shouts as I close my eyes again.
Someone’s chest is pushing against my nose. I can’t breathe. Ooh, nice. A clean, sharp scent fills my squashed nostrils. A warm cotton shirt brushes soft against my cheeks. Bliss. I can’t smell Mr garlic breath anymore. A large hand joins mine in the overhead strap. It’s warm, comforting. Electricity sparks from his palm to the backs of my fingers. Tipping my head back, I look up to find a pair of large, nut-brown eyes smiling down at me. Long dark eyelashes and thick brows frame these mesmerising, fathomless eyes and below them a long narrow nose and full lips. The lips part as a pink tongue licks them. I shiver as my heart skips a beat. Olly Murs is singing in my head and I can’t shut him up.
The mouth starts to move and a rich, chocolaty voice speaks to my face. ‘Sorry. Wouldn’t normally…late you see.’
‘No problem,’ I croak.
The tube rattles along, pinning us together and I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. I let my face rest back into his chest and inhale deeply.
‘Rick,’ he says, his finger stroking the back of my right hand as it still clings to the strap.
‘Sadie,’ I mumble, into the shirt. I can feel his nipple under the cotton, hard against my lips.
‘Very pleased to meet you, Sadie,’ he whispers, pushing himself closer. I feel so light-headed. What is happening to me? Me who never speaks to strangers. Me who never even kisses on a first date. Even when it’s someone, I know. ‘Where do you work?’ he asks, lifting my chin up with his free hand.
‘Green Park. Hospitality,’ I gasp. ‘You?’
‘Brixton. Marketing. Do you think we-?’
‘Yes,’ I almost shout.’ I mean…that would be nice.’ My face is burning.
The tube stops, he puts an arm around my waist and holds on tight as people push and shove their way past us. I don’t notice the vacant red seats.
The tube rattles on.
‘What time do you finish work?’ he asks.
‘In eight hours time.’
‘My last day,’ I answer
‘Definitely. No further use for it.’
I watch his brow furrow as he looks down at me. ‘Pastures new?’
‘I do hope so.’
He smiles, his white teeth almost twinkle with brilliance. ‘Me too.’ he says as if he fully understands.
I return the smile. ‘My boss thought I was available. Silly man.’
‘Very silly man,’ he concurs, stroking my cheek. I lose my balance as the train slows. His arm pulls me close again and his face comes down and covers mine as he kisses me. Long, slow, delicious. I can taste his spearmint toothpaste. I barely hear the woman tut and say…’For Goodness sake!’
The tube moves on again as we hold each other close. His lips part from mine and I sigh.
‘Ah! Pastures new,’
‘Sorry?’ I whisper.
‘Pastures new, ‘ he repeats, nodding in the direction of the automated station indicator that is repeating NEXT STOP VICTORIA. I’ve missed my stop.
I grin up at him. ‘Pastures new.’