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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Connection by Lynne King


Standing on the crowded platform, Sally glanced around at her fellow travellers. All she saw were unfamiliar faces - their impatient glares centred on down the track and then back up at the digital clock as another minute ticked by. The seven twenty-five to London was a minute late and feet started inching forward - preparing for the great onslaught when the train finally pulled in.

The announcement came over the public address system as a rumble sounded in the distance. Silent relief flooded those faces followed by more jostling of feet. One last scan and Sally felt her heart skip a beat with the sight of the tall ebony-haired figure. Dashing through the ticket barrier he was up and onto the train before she was and several carriages down. By the time Sally was onboard, every seat was taken and it was back to standing in the corridor for the hour-long journey. Determined to be at least near the man of her dreams, she walked down the aisle of the connecting carriages.

“Here have my seat, seeing I don’t think you’ll be lucky in the next carriage either.”

Normally such a bizarre statement would have had her stopping in her tracks and asking the man to repeat himself, in case she was hearing imaginary voices. No one offers their seat on a commuter train, not even if she was nine months pregnant, or in her nineties or both. Without looking at the Good Samaritan, she shook her head in response and opened the connecting doors to the next carriage. She spotted him straight away despite the newspaper partly obscuring his handsome features. He never seemed to recognise her though, despite working in the same building.

Michael held the newspaper up as if to read but his concentration wasn’t there. All he could think about was her, the way she walked, the rich auburn colouring of her hair and the delicate upturned nose. She wasn’t wildly beautiful and he was no girl shy teenager and yet he felt like he was having a school boy crush. Every morning he looks out for her with the promise that this time he would pluck up the courage and talk to her. Then this morning, it actually happens and he bottles out from carrying it further.

The train pulled into the London station and Michael was up out of his seat and joining the mass of impatient anxious faces. Bodies began pushing forward and converging on the platform like a swarm of locusts. Normally he would remain seated until it was safe to walk up the platform at a leisurely stroll and not feel as if he was being carried along. He guessed being his own boss had its advantages.

There she was, several paces ahead. Her auburn head bobbed and weaved as if she was looking out for an opening and about to make a run for it. He had to quicken his pace to keep up with her. He carried on following her steps and even managed to purchase a ticket in time to jump on the same tube. Not once did she glance behind her so that their eyes could at least meet and a connection made. Sidling up to her on the sardine packed carriage wasn’t the answer. Being a stalker was bad enough but a creepy pervert accosting women on the tube was going a little too far. No, once again he had failed in his mission. He carried on behind her keeping his distance and stood on the opposite street corner as she walked into an office complex.

That evening, Sally spotted an empty seat next to him. Nearly knocking over a fellow commuter in her haste, she beat him to the seat - a sweet innocent smile met the frown of her competitor as he moved away. Desperation took hold on how exactly to begin a conversation. After ten minutes of racking her brain for something to say and drowning in the scent of his aftershave, she fell asleep only to be woken by a sharp jab in the rib cage. Startled, her eyes shot open to find one side of her jawbone firmly cushioned by the padding of a jacket. Bolting upright she immediately rushed out with an apology. He responded by looking at her as if she was something he had just picked off from his highly polished black leather shoe. Shrinking further back into the seat, Sally wondered whether she had more than simply slept on his shoulder; dribbling came to mind and with it the wish for a shovel to bury herself with.

Stepping off the train they were like a stampede of ants all heading for the ticket barrier, Sally amongst them, that was until she tripped over a discarded coke tin and went flying. Her humiliation and disillusionment was complete when scrambling to retrieve her handbag, she caught sight of those polished black leather shoes step straight over her outstretched hand and march away.

“Here let me give you a hand.” Before she could argue, a firm grip hauled her up to her feet.

She found herself staring back into warm friendly blue eyes, the voice strangely familiar. Then she remembered; he had offered up his seat and she hadn’t even looked at him. If she had she would have liked what she saw.

“Are you okay?” He still held her arm.

“Yes, fine thank you; pride's a little bruised but I think it will recover.”

“I’m Michael by the way.”

“Hi, I’m Sally.”

“Well, Sally. How about we go across the road and buy you a drink to help with the shock.”

“That sounds like a good idea, I do feel a little shaky.” Sally felt it had nothing to do with her fall though and more to do with the fluttering her heart was undergoing. It was his smile what did it. There was no need for her fantasy man anymore; this one was real.

About the Author: My short stories have been published in quite a few popular UK magazines and I have a romantic suspense novel out at the moment, entitled, To Deceive Is To Love, published by The Wild Rose Press and given a great review by The Long and the Short of it. Find out more at www.MySpace.com/LynneKingAuthor

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