I met Scott on the Tube.
It happened by chance, really; I got on after a long day of work, I must have looked exhausted (I certainly felt it), it was crowded, and a man who looked a year or two younger than me decided to act chivalrous. "Would you like my seat, ma'am?" he said, getting up.
This, for the record, wasn't Scott.
Before I could mutter a grateful "yes, thank you," he stood up in a rush, toppling over the boxes that the man seated next to him was carrying. Cursing my luck, I bent down and picked up the boxes before squeezing in, handing them over as I did.
"Thanks," he smiled. "Sorry about all that."
"Not your problem," I said, glancing around to see if Mr. Gallant was in earshot.
I figured the least I could do was give him fair warning before my stop came around, so if I got up quickly we wouldn't start the whole sorry cycle all over again. "Next stop's mine."
I watched his face for a moment. Let him look down on my neighborhood—it wasn't like I ever planned on seeing him again. But instead he just smiled and said "One before mine. Next trip up I'll save you a seat, eh?"
I rolled my eyes.
It wasn't the next trip, nor the one after that. But maybe two days out of any given week I'd see him; perhaps he switched his commute schedule to match mine. I didn't bother to switch mine—work was hard enough to come by as it is without taking silly risks. Things had been too coincidental, meeting on the train like that. I just knew if we got too close, something silly, impossible would happen.
It always did.
There had been Jason. He was always so happy. So full of life. And full of, to be brutally honest, whatever food—to say nothing of drink—he could get his hands on.
Still, he always brought back something extra for us. He'd drop by in the evening, I'd be scrambling to throw something together for dinner, and drop everything in a fuss when it turned out he'd brought pizza. My own cooking would be left to rot in the sink as we crowded around.
"Couldn't you give any warning?" I sighed.
"I call, but you're at work all day," he pointed out.
I rolled my eyes and we'd eat the pizza.
I didn't like him drinking, not at my house. At first he gladly complied, but as we got more comfortable with each other he started pushing that more and more often. It got to the point where we had shouting matches over the kitchen table as he unrepentantly twirled his beer bottle in hand and I told him, for goodness' sakes, he could learn some restraint when there was a child in the flat and he told me that I was being a—
The noise was unmistakably that of breaking glass, as if he had furiously squeezed the bottle so hard that it shattered. Jason looked me up and down, and just threw up his hands and left for the night.
But he must not have looked too hard at the floor. There should have been glass bits all over the place, to say nothing of beer stains. Instead, there wasn't anything. The beer and the bottle had both disappeared. And when we broke up officially a few days after that, there was even less noise.
And before him, there had been Wayne. He was nice enough, a real gentleman. He understood that I was busy and couldn't always go out, and when he bought me gifts, it never felt like he was showing off. But when it worked out, he'd drive me over to his house and we'd play cards or watch television or something.
The one funny thing was that he kept bringing his friends over as well. It wasn't so much that they also were dating and us women would hang out while the men watched football or something—most of them were several years younger than him and not attached. They just kept talking about something down in front of the television while Wayne and I hung out upstairs. I was never invited to join.
I put up with that for a while, but then came the day when Wayne "invited" some of his friends over to my flat. I cooked and cooked for them, but the others didn't seem interested in eating, just having a quiet corner where they could discuss...whatever it was they wanted to discuss.
Then the power went off.
The others swore, loudly, and while I would have been happy to wait out the outage, Wayne's friends apparently needed light for whatever it was they were getting up to and took off. I remember there were sirens going on outside, and Wayne hesitated at the door, squinting across the hall. "Are the lights on in there?"
"I don't know!" I shrugged. "Maybe they have candles."
"I...look, I'll call you sometime, yeah? I...I just need to keep up with them." Shooting me a helpless look, he took off down the hall after them.
Maybe he did call. I wouldn't know, I was at work, but we never really reconnected.
And even before him, there was Darren.
He was not my first crush, really. I'd pined after other boys in school, went on a few dates, but they'd never turned into anything like my first real love. My husband. My Darren, who would do the silliest little things—he filled our little house with balloons for my birthday. Literally filled them, it, it took me fifteen minutes to get up to our bedroom! He was never home late, even when he said he had to work overtime, and he always had the house clean without ever seeming to pick up a broom.
Actually, that's wrong. He picked up a broom once, late one night, and just turned it over and over in his hands, almost longingly. "Do you need to sweep or something?" I asked. "You can do it in the morning."
He carefully leaned it up against a wall and said "No, I'm fine. We can get to it later."
"All right, you silly," I said, kissing him goodnight.
Those were the last words I ever spoke to him. By morning the next day he was gone, vanished, and after a few weeks the police gave up.
So when I met Scott, and when I gave him my number, and when we spent a few weekends in restaurants together, I didn't get my hopes up. I just figured we'd used up all our good luck in happening into each other, and that something would eventually go wrong.
And things went wrong, of course—we had our squabbles, we had our private misfortunes at work. Bumps in the road, yet nothing more serious than Darren and I had fought through at first. I had been more carefree, then, less inclined to see the fights as catastrophes. With Scott I was more guarded, more fearful, but he didn't seem to mind.
Even when he came over, nothing too strange ever happened. No fireworks, but no explosions either. It was a quiet, smoggy day when he proposed to me. Our courtship had been as fast and unglamorous as the Underground—and perhaps as powerful.
If I had had any doubts that he was the right man for me, they were erased when he suggested the best man. Not someone he'd known for very long, but someone who would come to play an important part in his life...and who had stood by me for years.
As we make our way into the church, he nudges me and gives a wide grin. "Mum?"
"I'm glad you're marrying Scott. I like him."
I smile back. "So do I, Dean."