When I stepped off the train and had no idea where anything was, I knew I should have forced somebody to come with me. But whilst all my friends are into gigs, clubs and drinking, I had a different taste.
I got out of the station easily. In front of me were streams of taxis, buses angrily beeping at lingering cars. Couples meeting, embracing and holding up people by stood in the doors out of the rain. Part of me is happy for them; they have someone. Part of me wants to push them in front of the angry buses.
My map is something I’d drawn on a piece of paper. It’s not to scale, but I marked out a red line from the station to the art exhibit. How could it go wrong? I try to follow my poor directions, getting soaked as I go. My dark hair sticks to my face but my makeup seems to have survived. Thank you, waterproof mascara.
As I go through the city my map gets wetter and wetter. The ink combined roads, blurred names, and it came to pieces in my hands. Frustrated I turned around, but I didn’t recognise what was behind me. I had spent the entire time focused on the map that I hadn’t bothered to look really where I was going. Even if I had wanted to return, the train station seemed impossible too.
I slumped through the wetness and do the only thing I can; ask for directions. A tall man hidden by an umbrella was walking in the same direction as me, so I caught up to him.
“Excuse me,” I said.
He turned around, his umbrella shielding me from the rain briefly. He pushed his glasses up his nose and looked at me with his gorgeous green eyes and a smile.
"Do you know where the art exhibition is? I think it’s called the…”
“The Old Victoria Museum, yeah I do.” He smiles. It actually warmed me a little despite the bitter cold. “I’m heading that way anyway; want an umbrella and some company?”
“Sure,” I said far too quickly.
He pulled me in slightly under his umbrella. Not forceful. Nicely. He led and I followed staying in the shelter he’d given me.
“Your boyfriend not interested in Mark Russel’s stuff?” he asked me.
“Haven’t got one. And my friends aren’t into the art scene at all,” I said.
He laughed. It was a short and sweet. “My friends are, but they don’t think I have any taste. They hate Russel’s stuff.”
“But, he’s brilliant. He turns things that look so normal on their heads. Abstract in a good way.”
“Exactly. But they don’t see that. You an art student then?”
“No. I’m a writer; can’t draw to save my life.”
“There’s more to art than just drawing. A writer, what kind of stuff do you write?”
We continued the conversation till we reached the museum. He put his umbrella down and shook it. That’s when I realised that it was the end. That he had done his nice gentlemanly job of looking after me and now we were just going to leave each other.
“You want to go around together?” he asked me.
“Yeah, you don’t seem like you’ll bite,” I said.
“I don’t bite, but I do take a while to look at things. So, if you want just go on through the exhibit and come back to me.”
I laughed. We picked up tickets and went to the first piece. It was a man on the street surrounded by fish in brightly coloured dresses. The man didn’t look as optimistic.
He laughed again and I join him.
“Plenty more fish in the sea,” we both said.
“He doesn’t look happy,” I said.
“Well, would you ever date a fish?” he asked. The way he asked almost felt serious but funny at the same time. He kept a straight face.
“Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong,” I said.
He smiled. “Russel has this weird sense of humour. It’s what I really like about him. And even if you don’t get the joke, his pictures are amazing.”
“You’re an art student right?” I said, realising I barely knew anything about him.
“I’m like you; you don’t need to be an artist to appreciate art. Right, where’s the next one?”
We left the final picture entitled “Tongue tied,” where it was an open mouth tied together. The sense of realisation hit me again. I wanted to see him again. Throughout the exhibit he had me laughing and I wasn’t uncomfortable with him, even if I did find him on the street.
“Right, well I better be heading off,” he said.
“Yeah, me too.” I wanted to ask him for directions to the station, but I didn’t want to look that stupid.
We paused in silence. And then he just walked out, put his umbrella up and left. I stood there completely shocked, but I thought that might happen. It was just a dream he would find me interesting enough to see again. I walked to the receptionist and ask for directions to the train station.
“It’s not hard to find,” said the man behind me.
I turned, and he was standing there grinning like a madman. “Didn’t think I’d leave without your number, did you? Besides, I’m a bit hungry, I know this great café nearby if you’re interested before you get your train.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. As long as you don’t run away again,” I said.
“By the way, before I write your number down, what’s your name?”
“Call me Kel. And you? I can’t believe I hadn’t asked you.”
“No…don’t tell me I was walking around with the artist the whole time? Oh, my God.”
“Course not, that only happens in stories. Come on, it’s not too far from here, Kel.”
About the Author: Joshua Stanton currently lives in Bath. He is currently studying Creative Writing in his second year at Bath Spa University. He enjoys writing multiple genres and ages, especially if they have comedy.