She looks up at me, a flash, an intrepid half-glance, then back down into her book. I identify the moment, moving across the carriage, next to her. I wrap my hand around the metal pole so that it rests it against hers. She slides hers down, avoiding, still attending to the book. I’m careful to breathe over her shoulder, so wisps can pass her neck. I say, ‘What you reading?’ Casual as you like. She has earphones in, takes one out, says, ‘Sorry?’ ‘How can you read and listen to music at the same time?’
‘Of what you’re reading.’
‘It helps me concentrate, on trains.’
‘You’re very pretty, you know.’
My hand now, softly on her waist. She shuffles out of it, turns her back, earphone back in. The chase. I stand behind her, the air so thin between us. She’s squinting, in an effort to read, listen, and scan her peripheries for me all at once.
The train jolts to a stop. People pour out, others funnel in. Still she stands there. The doors close again. I tap her on the shoulder, she turns to me, grimaces, turns back around, I tap her, she turns, pulls an ear out, says, ‘Stop it, seriously,’ and I can she what she’s reading now, Ulysses, studying it, undergrad, listening to the recording with the sweet Irish accent, coveting the accent, it making her wet, my hand now on her hip, it stays there a moment, she is complicit. But she says ‘Fuck off, you fucking…’ and marches off, down the stairs and through the carriage. So much pent up in that unfinished outburst. Fucking what? Temptation? And the opportunity she presents to me, choosing to stand instead of sitting, up near the doors, open from all angles, travelling in a regular carriage instead of retreating into a pink one.
Written partly in response to this article:http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/pink-trains-would-make-women-safer-20130307-2fook.html