Strangers On A Train

I’m on the overground train from West Hampstead to Richmond. The young man next to me is reading Geoff in Venice/ Death in Varanesi the Geoff Dyer book, which I remember borrowing from the British Institute Library in Florence. Not one of his best works.
“Hello,” I say, fixing him with a mad sultry gaze. “Have you read Out Of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book about trying to write a book about DH Lawrence. It’s brilliant, better than that one and…”
“No, I haven’t read any other Geoff Dyer,” he says, closing the book. “This is the first one of his I’ve…”
“Where are you from?” I ask him. He looks and sounds a bit foreign: mahogany tan, lots of dark brown curly hair, big green eyes. He’s wearing a black vest and khaki combat trousers and brown sandals. He is gorgeous.
“The States, obviously,” he says and maybe he doesn’t sound that interested in talking to me but I plough on.
“Yes I can tell that but whereabouts?” I say. This is good: talking to an actual real person rather than exchanging messages on the internet.
“New York of course,” he says, and then he closes his eyes.
He is pretending to be asleep so he doesn’t have to talk to me, I think. In all my years of chatting-up-young-men-on-trains, that’s the first time anyone’s ever pretended to fall asleep to avoid my attentions. I watch his long dark lashes graze his cheekbones as he feigns sleep and then I see the people across the carriage looking at us. They must have witnessed our chat and they too must have seen him pretending to fall asleep and…I haul myself to my feet, stumble down the carriage, take a seat and start writing my blog on my phone.
Remembering that I promised Mum and Dr Stein that I wouldn’t talk to anyone on public transport, I check my handbag for the fifteenth time for my Oyster card, the anxiety snowballing when I can’t find it in the back pocket. Fumbling all the way through my bag, I look at the rolling information board which says “destination Richmond” but not where we are and then the train screeches and grinds to a halt and it’s Richmond, I’m at my destination and my cousin and his girlfriend are meeting me here in seven minutes and there’s nothing to worry about but which way is out, this is not an exit and why haven’t I heard from the Iceman about next week and where am I where are they and then there are these shapes and it’s them and it’s OK.

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