Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Odd Couple: Euston Station 27th February 2006 21.07

They swept in front of me, she a good foot taller than he, dressed in identical beige trench coats, his arm reaching up to hold her, a small fat neck, his white hair folding up into a curl at his collar, and her face leaning down, her neck curving like a swan's to kiss him. She was in her mid-thirties I'd say, a pretty blonde woman, her face a fluid movement of expressions, as if she couldn't settle on one, leaning down, kissing the bald pate of his head, soaring up again, talking - and even though I couldn't hear a word of what they said I knew what she'd be saying - how she'd miss him, how she had missed him, how they were meant to be together, then swooping down again, her lips alighting, while he reached around her and hugged, his body stiffer, much older, a stub of a man, his head high because of her attentions, talking back, his face at an angle upwards to speak to her.

I knew I shouldn't look but my eyes kept being drawn back. I would look up to the great electronic notice board telling me my train was being prepared and then down again, and they would still be there, the odd couple, acting out their courtship like a pair of migratory birds, and so I invented tales of how they met and where they were going, how long they would be together, and how they would part. Because, I decided, this liaison was too intense to last. She would be the one to tire. Maybe she would look at him one day lying next to her in bed and realise that it had to end - all his wit, his wealth, his wisdom could not make up for the way his skin slopped from him as he slept and the way the white hair erupted from every vesicle of skin, and the way he snored and muttered of old times in his sleep. She would rise silently then and pack her bag. It was half packed already because she was a woman who couldn't settle. She would grab the two handles and walk away, leaving her trench coat next to his on the hooks by the door - even though she had tried her best again it seemed that she just would never find a place to fit.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago, I sometimes travelled Euston to Chester on Friday evenings.Each time I saw the same couple; a young woman, a middleaged man, clinging together on the platform. Always he boarded the train at the last minute,leaving the woman waving, dabbing away tears til the train was out of sight.Who were they? What was their story? Once the man caught my gaze as he settled in his seat on the train, shrugged his shoulders, muttered:" C'est la vie!" under his breath. And he caught my eye again as we arrived at Chester,as he lugged his bags onto the platform, straightened his tie, rubbed at his lips with a huge spotted hankerchief. And I remembered the woman, her lipstick, that brilliant purple shade Biba once sold. And minutes later, I remembered the woman again as in the station forecourt, he piled himself into a huge mud splattered Estate car, brimming with children and labradors and I thought of her as I glimpsed his wife, ( surely his wife..),a pale blonde with weary face. And they drove by me as I stood on the pavement and the man caught my eye through the car window, smiled at me in the darkness and I was certain he'd muttered :" C'est la Vie!" all over again....

Sun Mar 05, 09:02:00 pm  
Anonymous Clare said...

Amazing story - seeing an affair from both sides like that - such a powerful standpoint, and the way you've described it - I can see it happening - all those details - the huge spotted handkerchief, the mud-spattered car...wonderful stuff.

Sun Mar 05, 09:42:00 pm  
Blogger J. Erik Lundberg said...

This is just lovely, Clare. Thanks.

Sun Mar 05, 10:14:00 pm  

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