by Shiv Saywack
There they are, oblivious to the crowd, curled around each other like a pretzel, exchanging salty kisses. She is seated on his lap, her arms around his neck and his around her waist. A lurch and the tube bounces out of the station and she bounces on his lap as her leg curls around his to steady herself. Her hair falls across her face hiding their slow, delicate, soundless, passionate kisses.
His fingers have stopped. The spotty office worker that is. The one opposite them. They are frozen, hovering above the keys of his phone, in mid sentence of the text he was so busy with a moment ago. His shifty eyes pretending to look elsewhere, spies them over his brow.
But then, we are all looking. Some directly, some over the pages of books or newspapers, no one is reading. Some, like me, look at them in their reflection in the window. Better that way.
A little girl leans across and whispers in the ear of her brother and they both giggle with their hands across their mouths. Mother looks down at them with a Victorian rebuke, and they are silent, their eyes downcast. But after a few moments the girl nudges the boy in his ribs and they snigger again, this time quietly to themselves.
And still they kiss. Unspeaking. Soundless. Her eyes closed. Comfortable on his lap. His hand gently rubbing the small of her back. Hers delicately across his cheek. Her ankle wrapped around his calf.
They got on the southbound tube at West Hampstead and sat side by side on one of the rows of seats. But before Finchley Road she had risen up and sat on his lap. They kissed throughout Swiss Cottage and St. John’s Wood and on to Baker Street. At each stop the carriage filled up until there was only standing room. As if not to intrude, that very British thing, the passengers created a void around them.
When the train pulls into Bond Street she gets up. She climbs off his lap and quickly, without fuss, straightens her skirt. Then she slaps him on the cheek. It is a swift movement. There is a sharp crack. It snaps around the carriage silencing the two children whose mouths gape. No one speaks. Eyes are suddenly down inside their books or newspapers. As she leaves the carriage, he, still seated, pulls out his phone and begins composing a text. Is to her? I wonder. His eyes betray no emotion.
At Green Park I leave the carriage and cross the platform to get the northbound line to Baker Street, two stops back.
Shiv Saywack loves short stories and poems.