Hi all. Still working hard on The Last of Logan, which has grown from a novella into a full-blown novel so taking a little longer than initially planned. Anyway, here’s something I wrote on the train on the way home from work tonight. Hope you like it 🙂
George sat on the bench on the station platform and stared at the display board. His train was four minutes late. It was, he reflected, in the grand scheme of things, perfectly on time. He was, at least, not feeling as agitated as the man sat next to him, who was furiously prodding out a text message on his phone. In front of George, standing just behind the yellow line, a man and woman of an age that George had always thought was probably the happiest period of his life.
They spoke easily to each other, there was a fluidity to them, but there was a subtle distance to their interaction. They were, George quickly established, work colleagues, but they knew each other well and shared the commute at least part of the way. The woman told the man what she was planning to eat for her dinner and the man was jealous, saying he would have whatever was left in his fridge. His teenage son was eating him out of house and home, he said, and George thought this unlikely.
Although they stood only five yards away from George, the pair of them were quite oblivious to his presence. As they spoke about their plans for the weekend – she was visiting her mother in Surrey, he and his son were going watch the football – a large bug got caught in the woman’s hair. She had long blonde hair, swept forwards over one shoulder. She felt the bug, but didn’t dare look at what it was, so she turned to her companion, tilted her head towards him.
What is it? she said. What is it?
She kept saying it, as the man hesitated before trying to brush it away without touching her hair.
Looks like a June bug, he said.
Ooh I hate them, get it out, she said.
She leaned in, inviting him to lift her hair, which he did and swept the bug to the floor and it seemed to George to be a supremely intimate gesture. The man looked embarrassed to have done it and he jammed his hands into his pockets, and George wondered if it was something the man had often thought of doing. Just touch her hair.
When the lady looked down at the floor and saw the bug, upside down and struggling on the station platform, she let out a little squeal, and instinctively stood on it, twisting her foot to grind the bug into the concrete. The sudden violence, the grind of the underside of her tanned heel shoe against the bugs shell, took the man by surprise and his smile, and, George supposed, excitement at this moment of intimacy with a work colleague, dissolved as the bug’s mashed insides stained the platform.
There was a moment of silence as the man looked at the remains of the bug and the lady looked into her handbag for a brush. She began to brush her hair. And as the train rolled into the station and the doors opened, it seemed to George that there was relief in the man as he looked at her again, that a weight had been lifted.