A face on the train .2

Familiar landmarks on a wet autumn morning, the same faces in the over crowded carriage, swelled to capacity by Septembers’ student intake. The usual jostling for seats, confusion over reservations and excitable babble is a test of nerves. I keep my head in my work and block it all out, waiting for it to settle down. A face in my eyeline draws my attention. Cool and composed in the middle of it all. Pale chiselled features thrown into relief against the high collar of a shabby black pea coat, leaning in the doorway, face into his phone. White wires trailed out from under loose dark curls and where a pale throat angled sharply down into the loose dark folds of a heavy twill shirt, open wide at the neck, a slash of crimson scarf. I forget the first rule of commuting and I am staring straight at him, a figure stepped straight out of a painting by Waterhouse, a perfect pre-raphaelite subject.

Unexpectedly his eyes flick up to meet mine, catching me out and snapping me back to a crueler reality. There is a milli second of tension and I look quickly away. Risking a look back and meeting his eye again, a quizical, uncertain smile plays across his face. He turns to stare out of the window. When we both join the melee leaving the train, he is in front moving purposefully through the crowd, long coat unfurling out behind him making for the single manned open ticket gate. As he stops and holds his pass in front of him he momentarily looks back directly at me and smiles again. This time the curl of his lip shows a hint of arrogance and a suggestion of mocking promise.
Back home that evening I pull the drapes close and light a fire in the grate. This room was the sole reason I had bought this place, welcoming me in like an old friend the first time I stepped through it’s wide door. It was on the first floor of the house, one of those elegantly proportioned late regency terraces overlooking the park across the narrow street that ran down towards the  barracks. I always left a triangle of window uncovered when I drew the drapes so I could keep the dark silhouettes of the trees in view. The room was arranged according to my own particular idea of comfort, there was not a spare inch of wall uncovered or a surface that was not full. Eyes always like somewhere to play, stark, blank spaces were to me the stuff of nightmares, classrooms and I imagined, torture cells. A well loved leather chesterfield and high wing backed armchair gave audience to the fireplace and high Victorian clutter was the un-self concious theme. I lit the low lamps and the candles. The opening bars of Miles’ ‘kind of blue’ came in, the call and response motif of ‘so what’. I congratulated myself on being lucky enough to live alone.

For this moment I had wanted the stillness of a calm mind but while my thoughts were distracted slinking in low like a fox there he was. The memory of his face played through ‘blue in green’ segueing in and out bar by bar. I was all too familiar with the nature and pitfalls of obsession but this played to my weakneses in a way that was way too seductive to be ignored. I let it play through, indulged an imagined flirtation and the sensuality of a conclusion. How would he smell, taste? The bright gleam in those dark vulpine eyes, was it a tell tale promise? A clue? The need to know went beyond reason. The hook was in.


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