The tube was fairly busy.  Lots of shoppers returning home for teatime and the early doors crowd going out into the city.  Katy had managed to get a seat and held on tight to the pole next to her as she watched her fellow travellers.  She enjoyed train rides as the motion made her feel soothed like she was being rocked to comfort.  This was helping with the excitement and fear that had been building slowly all day.   

The tube made its next stop.  A frail woman stepped aboard in a floral dress and long white socks.  Her attire didn’t fit her age bracket and it made Katy curious about her.  She seemed terribly nervous and never took her eyes away from the floor. The lady was so thin and bony that Katy wondered how she carried the oversized bag that looked like it had swallowed a baby elephant.  Her interest was broken by the cry of a small child in a push-chair nearby. The little girl was squealing and laughing at her parents. Everything around her an amusement and joy; eyes as big as moons and as clear as stars.  She was pure and clean from broken promises and hateful words.  Things yet to be learned.  Her good spirits made Katy smile.   

It was a hot day in summer and the carriage, though air conditioned, held a warm, damp air within.  Along with the rocking it lured you into a trance and made you weary.  People aboard forgetful of where they were, their faces wearing their thoughts and stories.  Protection unveiled.  Apart from the Indian youth across the way. He’d already fallen into the sleep that threatened. His knees up and his Nike clad feet on the seat bar in front.  Though unreadable from his inactivity you could feel his confidence.  Lean and muscular arms protruded from the sleeveless, white t-shirt; taut, brown, unblemished skin.  A body that didn’t need to hide itself from the critics but face them with pride and show them their inferiority.  Youth and ego at its pinnacle.  

Katy smoothed her hands over the fabric of her pretty summer dress.  It was a little too fancy, she thought and a little too tight but pretty nonetheless.  She twisted her black sunglasses in her hand as she recalled the last messages.

“What shall I wear?”  

“A dress.” He’d said, “Wear a pretty dress so I will know it’s you.”

She hoped this was going to prove to be all the things she’d expected.  She was to meet him near the big black doors at the side of the Town Hall at 6.30 pm.

“We’ll take it from there.”  He’d said.  

Katy had liked the idea of a mystery evening that danced to its own tune without plans and rigid schedules.  And with a man she had never met nor knew what he looked like.  It didn’t matter to her though, he was already the most perfect man in the world to her.  The few months of internet chat had proved that you fall in love with your mind and not with your eyes.  She hadn’t wanted to meet him yet but he’d said it was time.  Katy had decided that she had to learn to take risks. Be bold and stop missing out on opportunities.  

A man took a seat beside her. The white wires from his earphones travelling down his shirt front to the phone in his lap.  She could hear the beat of a ballad softly escaping like a distant, gentle weeping.  His face was sad and resigned as it stared down to his hands that were tearing pretty patterns into his train ticket.  He looked like he was remembering a love that had disappeared from his life.  

I can smell your pain like the dank, sweat of this carriage, she thought.   It seemed unfair that whilst she was about to embark on the pavement of hope that someone else had fallen from the kerb. 

The train reached its destination and the people made moves to be first to escape.   Katy made her way across the town square being careful not to catch her heels in the cracks of the slabs.   She glanced shyly at every lone male that walked in her direction wondering if that could be him.

“How will I recognise you?”  She remembered asking him.

“You’ll know its me.” He’d said.  Katy had smiled at the words on her computer screen.

She saw the door in the distance. She was early. Twelve minutes to go yet. Katy reached the meeting place and stopped, casually looking around her.  She was scared. She ran a trembling hand through her hair and tried to breathe properly; desperate not to look nervous and trying not to think too hard.  She’d watch the people instead and keep her mind off it, like she had on the tube.   

Katy spent a long time watching the people that passed by her as she waited for him. Long enough to feel the the sun sink from the sky and the evening air to chill the bare flesh on her arms.  Long enough to return to the shadows where she belonged. 

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