Saturday, 2 October 2010

A true reflection?

A short story written for class. Hope you enjoy!

A true reflection?
The hot smell of human bodies hit me on the quiet train. How odd for it to have smelled so pungent when my carriage was half empty. The smell implied a bustle before my arrival. It lingered and with it the sense of hysteria only present on overcrowded public transport and the war for a seat. Taking a place quite comfortably next to the window I heaved a sigh as the floor heaters started to warm and relax my ankles. They kneaded the frozen fingerprints of the lashing rain outside. I wiggled my toes and embraced heat lapping at the sore calluses in my cheap mules outworn a long time ago, even raising and arching my foot so every inch could be embraced. I admired the shoes opposite mine. So close for a stranger’s foot to be. Too comfortable in its place next to mine. I became aware of my obvious pleasure from the electric heaters and a flush hit my face. The shoes teased mine; they were a beautiful deep red with a gold buckle winking at me. The huge black heel rose up to a delicate ankle. They had a personality of their own in the grey carriage. I drew my eyes up to meet the knees which settled a few inches from mine. The two pairs rocked back and forth with momentum. They were by no means dainty. Clothed in black hosiery of a low denier, a few hairs were visible which broke through the knit. The carriage jerked and our knees knocked together, her black tights pushed against my worn denim. I’m sure I felt her push harder than the trains movement had warranted. I snapped my head up to apologise. Not sure if I would be speaking of the knock or the way I had stared.
My eyes lay on her face, my mouth open ready to announce but it dried in an instant. Her face matched mine, teasing like the shoes that grounded her. She let me stare, taking her in piece by piece. She was my reflection and I admired her closely. She had the single wiry hair that jutted from the left eyebrow. Stupidly missed this morning from a rushed pluck. Her manicured hands with acrylic nails woven together bared the resemblance of mine, grown up yet had not lost their childish softness.
I wanted to touch her; I couldn’t quite believe the image in front of me. I needed to hold her. As if feeling my pleas her eyes invited me to her body. She said nothing. Her smudged red lipstick made no attempt to verbalise. With my hand I simply rested the tips of my fingers on her forearm. Her body temperature mimicked mine and the soft downy hairs felt familiar. She was an airbrushed me, a beautiful me. At first glance she appeared beautiful. As I looked harder I could see the layer of paint which had sunk into the wrinkles, trying to conceal them. A few fresh red scars on her neck were revealed by her loosened silk scarf. I moved my hand up and the sensation of nausea hit me as my hands lay upon her upper arm. Sat on the edge of my seat, her scent filled me. Too heavily musky and floral. With a sickly sweet undertone.
I had been so accepting of this figure but it was too unreal. I wanted her away but I also wanted to take her in, ask her to live for me. The reality of what was happening hit me and the heat around my ankles now felt too hot. Its sticky fingers grabbed me, a thumb dug deep not permitting any movement. I had to look at her. Is this what I could be? I yearned for her but simultaneously wanted to run. I was now twisting my ankles writhing away from the hot hands, it hurt but I needed to escape. One ankle bid to freedom and the other one with it soon after. I stood up, tore my eyes away and ran to the safety of the carriage toilet. It was only now I realised all other passengers had departed. We were alone.
I threw myself inside the safety of the hot tin box. The musty smell of chemical toilet rose bile in my throat and I emptied in into the basin. Splashing my face with the warm water I didn’t care that my stomach contents were mixing with it and running through my fingers. I let the water run down my face onto the old white t-shirt and joined the stains that held their place presently. I reached into my dirty pocket and found the business card reading “Sam’s Girls” with the black silhouette of a naked woman prominent in the foreground. The temptation to call the number now sickened me and I flushed it away and watched the train suck it into the dark hole. Claustrophobia overwhelmed me and I had to leave the safety of my hideaway.
I opened the door and air felt surprisingly refreshing. I looked down to where I had been sat. Empty. She had gone. I went over, the seat was still warm. Resting on the head of the chair was a most unusual butterfly. It looked like it had been sewn from black silk with the appliqué of red rose petals for decoration. It bared gold flecks and stretched its wings towards me. The train arrived at my destination. I had to forget her. I pressed the cool steel button to depart and the butterfly followed, rose through the door with me and towards the sun until it was no longer visible.