The Joys of Public Transport
It was the middle of autumn and an Indian summer that had settled over most of the country was doing curious things to its inhabitants. With temperatures soaring the mind turned to more leisurely past times, the soul was warmed from the outside in and the body … the body began to react in what could only be described as its primal instinct.
Bella observed this 'primal instinct' first hand as she stepped from the platform to the stationary train, careful not to catch her heel between the gap as she had done on more than one occasion and took her position against the waist high barrier that protected the only aisle facing seat from the traffic making its way through the automatic door. Two men followed behind and she caught them staring at the other women standing in business skirts, licking their lips as if their mouths had suddenly gone dry. She could only hope they kept their eyes off her derrière, that look was more than a little predatory.
Trying to ignore them, Bella unclipped her laptop case and withdrew the latest bestseller. The novel claimed to be a romantic thriller full of suspense; she hoped it was all it was cracked up to be. Placing the bag between her feet to keep it safe and out of the way she leant against the barrier and smiled at the little old lady who always sat in front of her. The woman gave her a knowing smile and watched as Bella counted down the stops as she did everyday.
This had been her ritual for the past six months, ever since she had begun commuting to the city by public transport. It was not only the most environmentally conscious way to travel but it also had its other perks. Said 'perk' would be hopping on in just three more stops; her heart beat out an unsteady rhythm in anticipation. His name was Edward; not that he had ever told her his name, infact they barely exchanged pleasantries but she had caught a quick glance of his security tag one day when she had managed to drag her eyes away from his face to examine his chest and ever since it was the name that she sighed in her dreams.
Edward was quite possibly the most beautiful man she had ever seen, he was tall; much taller than she was and he had the most amazing eyes – like gold. They were the kind of eyes you could get lost in for hours and when she finally managed to look away she would always see the small smile that made one side of his mouth quirk up, it was this smile that made her more than aware that he knew the direction of her thoughts but it also told her that he was just as happy to see her as she was to see him.
Just two more stops and she would see that breathtaking smile which she would always return with a goofy grin, having caught herself in the reflection of a young woman's sunglasses one day she was well aware how goofy she looked but she couldn't help it, her heart seemed to expand when he came in to view.
She subconsciously undid the top button of her blue silk blouse, the heat of the carriage rising as more people hopped on, it was becoming more tightly compacted as people gripped hand holds. It was at this stage of the trip Bella was reminded of childhood games of Sardines just her version always turned out a little better.
One stop to go, she gripped the novel under her chin and wiped her sweaty palms on her black pencil skirt and quickly smoothed her straight hair behind her ears, working the tangles out with her fingers. She hoped she didn't look as flushed as she felt; it wouldn't do to have him see her with beads of sweat running down her forehead when he always looked so cool and calm – why oh why was he so perfect when I am was so … not? The train gave jolt at this despairing thought and her stomach lurched in time, there was a slight pressure in the carriage as the speed decreased and the machine slid to a stop.
Her breath caught as she searched the platform for his bronze hair that seemed to stand out and shine like diamonds in the sunshine. There was the woman whose lipstick always matched her dress, and the man with the scar across his eye – Edward should have been standing between them but the space between them remained empty, the sting of disappointed made her eyes glitter with irrational tears when he was nowhere to be seen. Dropping her head in defeat she began to pick up her laptop case to put the book away, he obviously couldn't make it today – maybe he had a date, it was after all a Friday night and people met other people for work after for drinks and the like, people with social lives that is.
Oh here it comes, the self pity; thought Bella with a depressed sigh. She was not one of those people with a social life, infact this portion of her day was the only thing keeping her sane; it was her deepest connection to another human being. Her father Charlie had been encouraging her for years to move back to the small town of Forks where she had friends and family but she was a stubborn individual and a little loneliness wasn't going to stop her from pursuing her career and making something of herself.
She never imagined at the age of 26 she would be living in a single bedroom apartment with 4 cats and a goldfish with a death wish but she was. She even spent her weekends tending to her ever growing Bonsai collection - her life couldn't be any sadder and to top it all off she was in love with a man who spent a forty five minute train ride pressed intimately against her back reading her latest novel over her shoulder but never saying a word to her, barely acknowledging her even, well except for the barest quirk of a smile as he hopped on the carriage.
The train moved off again and she stared wistfully back at the now empty platform. This was the first day he had ever missed the train, she wondered if this other woman was pretty; she was probably blonde – men seemed to like the blonde ones. A hand lightly touched her own and she looked down to find the old lady staring up at her, a sympathetic twinkle in her eye. Bella smiled back down at her sadly and nodded her understanding, the old woman felt sorry for her. Oh now she was going to cry, great just great.
A fat tear rolled down her cheek as she allowed her hair to cover most of her face, the old woman rubbed her hand soothingly as more tears fell and she succumbed to the pain in her chest as her heart broke. There is only one thing more pathetic than falling in love with a stranger and that is crying on a train when said stranger fails to make an appearance. This thought made her chest heave as she suppressed a rather loud sob, not wanting to draw anymore attention to herself. She felt the train slow down again and the woman gave her hand a sharp tug making Bella look up in question. Rubbing the back of her free hand against her puffy red eyes she found the woman to be gazing out the window rather intently.
Bella followed her line of vision and in an instant her heart reassembled itself and beat harder and faster than ever before. There standing in the sunshine was Edward, her Edward. His smile was wider and brighter than she had ever seen and her breath caught in her throat as he slowly approached the door and pushed his way through the tight packed crowed until his whole body pressed against her back and both arms slipped around to grip the barrier on either side of her. The old woman's hand left hers and Edwards quickly replaced it.
She had been so focused on the feel of him around her that she barely registered when his other hand held something in front of her face. A single red rose with a note attached. Glancing up her eyes questioned him, he looked down at her with an encouraging smile and there was something else there – like a combination of fear and hope. Sliding her hand out from his she opened the note with shaking hands.
It was a single question mark and that was all but she knew what it meant. He was obviously a man of very little words. Looking back up, he eyes shining with a different kind of tear she nodded her head slowly, as if afraid he would change his mind. Her fears once again proved to be a product of her own self doubt as he leant toward her in response and barely brushed her lips with his smooth cool ones. It was the single most satisfying kiss of her life and he had barely touched her.
Bella remembered the old woman and turned back slowly to find her watching on with approval. She blushed, both in happiness and embarrassment and was about to settle back into the hard chest of her new … whatever he was when she remembered her new novel. Grinning like an idiot now she leant down, making sure her backside pressed against his loins and extracted her latest novel, showing him the blurb before turning to the first page. She had never had such a time concentrating on a book before while his hands lightly caressed her hips and sides as the train jolted and swayed in the afternoon heat.
It was also the quickest forty five minutes of her life and was over before she was ready for it to end. Instead of letting her hop of at her stop, which was before her own, he held on to her hips and didn't let her go. She once again looked up at him in question and he raised an eyebrow and quirked his lip in that heart stopping smile. He wanted her to stay with him, he wanted her. She smiled in return, letting him know she wanted him too.
They arrived at his stop moments later, he grabbed her hand and she knew that they wouldn't be strangers for much longer.