I’ve always been a fan of lifting my chin every once in a while, and observing the world around me. When I worked in London I defiantly stopped reading my phone or kindle on the commute, and looked out of the windows, treated to private rainbows and some space away from the grim-faced businessmen.
Every morning I sit in the station and read for half an hour or so. It’s a blissful moment to myself and has me devouring e-books at a rate of knots. Over the months however I have noticed the regulars, much as I wrote about a couple of years ago. The woman with the very skinny high heels returning from her morning Carluccio’s coffee run. The Asian guy constantly tapping away on his Macbook. The young pair always deep in tentative conversation sat on the same chairs, she in a headscarf, he with spiky brown hair, neither ever looking up from each other’s gaze.
This morning, the last two were a little different. I’ve always walked past them with a smile on my face, seeing their engaged expressions but always just a couple of inches’ space between their knees. Today, as I came up the stairs and past their spot, they were locked in an embrace.
Finally! I thought. I’ve been waiting for them to connect for a while, having watched their coy smiles. But there was something more. He was watching her eagerly, evidently caught between the taut energy of teenage passion, and the self-consciousness of a public space. The battle on her side appeared more complicated. Small smiles, an upturned face when he leant in to kiss her, only for her cheek to turn suddenly. An uncertainty. Sat on the other side of the space I couldn’t hear their conversation, but could see her downcast eyes. He leaning forward urgently, tapping her knees with a determined look on his face. Something earnest in the way he spoke, not quite pleading, but strong and pressing. Him suddenly standing, gesturing, firm but a little desperate, lost, waiting for a positive reaction.
Eventually, after more back and forth, he slumped back defeated, and after a time and some persuasion, a kiss on her covered forehead led to them both standing up and leaving, neither holding hands. He carried both their bags, and she kept her hands firmly in her coat pockets. I can only imagine the conversation. Was it a disagreement over where to meet for lunch? Prior commitments over the weekend eliminating the chance for stolen time together? Or was there something more, an underlying tension. Have these twenty-minute encounters been covert, forbidden? Has a line been crossed that will lead down winding, complex paths?
I’ll never know, and I’ll forever speculate. But for a moment I was caught up in another scene. My own thoughts, problems, stresses were gone and I just observed the life happening around me. Something unravelling like in a film, a glimpse into someone else’s sphere and all the intricacies of being human. A private insight into another world, the words from a book in front of my eyes. I’ll never know the cause of this stolen scene, but it will stay with me. A rare and precious glimpse into a whole other story.