Have you ever been on a train late at night and strange desires tease your ego? No? Well I have….
Being an avid people watcher, there was plenty of interest in the crowded train carriage. While actually too crowded for my comfort, station by station the commuting assemblage thinned until there were only a few of us left. My mood relaxed in tandem.
Those passengers left were unfortunately positioned to be reduced to just domes of heads, all different hair colour, scalp tone, hat style; I was disappointed.
Although I know it couldn’t have been by design, there was only one face to be seen from where I sat tightly in my corner. Actually there were two faces, one in profile, warm, friendly, passively looking out into the darkness, the same night-time creating a mirror to accommodate the second; a rather paler reflection that seemed to be looking in my direction across the seat tops. In my direction but there was no eye contact that constituted recognition or communication. My interest was pricked but I was drawn away to muse over a rather shapely dark skinned scull a couple of seats behind him; them.
Further distraction came as the next station slid alongside and my eyes flicked about in hope but returned to the warm face which was now alone, it’s counterpart lost in the whiteness of the platform lights. As the carriage doors cycled open and closed, I studied his rather attractive features. Smooth tight skin, mid thirties, perhaps younger, yes younger; I was trying to kid myself that I didn’t need to consider the youth. Pale grey irises stood out clearly in their clean white pools but a blink hooded then a little and the long dark lashes linking to manicured brows showed them off to perfection.
A ripple on his temple was driven by some agitation of the defined jaw, I caught a pout of gentle rouge brown lips and the forehead rested once more. To one side a neat flat ear was nestling beneath the tightly cropped hair line that gently developed upward only to disappear under a shock of sculpted silk strands wrapping smoothly out of sight to the nape; I could easily picture the 360 degree image in my practised mind’s eye. This indulgence was brushed aside but the sudden reappearance of the boy’s co-conspirator, this time the black backed reflection was not so isolated, in fact it was staring at me, not past me, not through me, right inside me.
Embarrassed, I looked away, but the attraction had already been secured by my psyche and I allowed my peripheral vision to keep the image available; indistinct but available.
They were inviting eyes and my resolve failed quickly and I allowed mine to be locked into them. It lasted for only a millisecond but there was something wrong with this picture; it was my rational brain speaking to me; I couldn’t determine the problem but there was something odd going on.
In the previous minutes, neither of us in this detached intimacy had moved more than the occasional discrete muscle but I froze as the reflective face broke into a smile, I could see it clearly although still locked into the grey pools. His cheek bones had filled out with raised impudence, teeth, white and even, glistened inside lips full. The problem resolved.
The face, the living face hadn’t changed its stoic beautiful profile. Trying to break myself away to confirm this peculiarity seemed impossible but when the wink that was tossed, definitely didn’t come from the statuesque form. Confusion slapped me hard on the cheek and my neck swung round only to be met by the confusion of reflections of reflections in the opposing windows. It was too much to reason and I bounced back to the original conundrum.
The smile was still in place and although I returned it willingly, I hoped that mine was hidden by the high velveteen seat backs between us. Knowing that my reciprocation had been registered, a more comprehensible set of facial niceties beamed out their acceptance of my complete attention.
Still confused I glanced momentarily to the left but felt guilty as a frown dig into his forehead. The visceral version of this peculiarity still hadn’t moved it’s ravishing contours. As my eyes flicked back, I could tell that he displeased as the corners of his mouth had dropped slightly in silent admonishment; I tilted my head and raised an eyebrow in apology. What was I apologising for? I was flirting with a reflection, beautiful, but still only a refection. Was I so desperate for attention? So gullible? My eyes stabbed with pain and they screwed up against another set of bright lights, my head fell forward and hit the seat in-front of me. The train screeched harshly to its rest.
The atmosphere changed. People were getting in my way, there was no room to manoeuvrer or escape as a rotund panting body exhaled some obnoxious curry flavoured breath as it sat heavily almost in my lap; my stomach turned. Disappointment rocked me back into the uncomfortable seat. Craning a stiffening neck around the seat, the vision of beauty was gone, as was its counterpart, leaving only an invisible imprint on the weather streaked glass.
All I could do was scowl at the unfortunate mass next to me.