by Dominic Blackwell
She sat down in a seat which faced his and looked through the window. She looked with silence and with melancholy at the houses which rushed and the trees which blurred. He sensed perfection. He pulled a pad to his lap. He palmed his pencil and began.
A trace of the form of her face from the side. The way her head curved with delicacy by her hairline. The strands of her hair which framed her face. He added details with swiftness. The still of her eyes as they came together on a point with space between it and them. Her lips, which rested together with softness and without strain. And soon her essence touched the page.
He often made these sketches : quick and of those that he saw on the train. It passed the time but more than that it froze for eternity what he had seen in the ghost of a glance. Faces of interest, poses which spoke. Sometimes the lines of a figure in a seat, their outline and hints of the fabric of their clothing and of their substance. And he did this with calm and he didn’t obtrude and he didn’t stare. The many who crossed the line of his eyes didn’t know their place in the growth of his skills.
But then she turned to him. She put a finger to her lips. She pointed to his pad and then to herself. No-one had seen him when he had sketched them before. He nodded. He felt guilt, which was slight but still there. But she smiled a smile of jest.
She waved a request that he pass her his pad. He passed it with shame. She pulled a glass to the palm of her hand from her bag. She turned away, looked at her reflection. She then looked back to the pad. He felt some nerves. He had no expertise. The likeness of her on the page wasn’t good. But she just smiled.
She pointed at his hand which held the pencil. He passed it to her. She turned the page and put her finger on her lips once more. She pointed at her eyes. He looked at her. Then she started to draw and swiftly. Her free hand pointed at the bridge of her nose to pull back his glance at intervals. Her eyes flicked between looks at him and looks at the pad. She put a finger to her lips again. She touched his hand with hers so he would look at her and. Then she passed him the pad.
Her drawing amazed him. She rendered with lines which were loose and fluid but she had seen into his mind with the point of the pencil. He looked and saw a view of himself, confused by what she was doing. He saw the hardness of focus in his eyes as he watched her. She held her forearms with hands bent back with her palms face up and lifted her eyebrows. The mime was of a question. He almost spoke but she shook her head and put a finger to her lips which smiled. She did the question mime for a second time. He smiled and she beamed back at him. She touched his hand and gave him the pencil.
Then she looked at the pad. She pointed to him and then to the sketch which she had drawn. She turned the page back to the picture of her and then to the one of him. She smiled and held out her hand. He took it. She shook it with a grip of softness.
She didn’t let go of his hand. She got up and waved with the hand which was free that he should come to her. And then she loosed his hand and walked down the train. He went after her. She walked with him to the map. She pointed to the stop at the end of the line and mimed a question. He planned that he’d go there so he pointed back to the place where she had pointed and nodded with a smile. She smiled a smile of breadth and gestured back to their seats. He went after her to where they had come from. The two of them sat back down in their seats and faced each other.
Her finger came to her lips. He nodded with vigour, his finger to his lips, a copy of what she had done. She put up her thumbs and smirked.
The train flew on through the countryside. A man who’s job was that he’d check their tickets entered the carriage at an end. He took the tickets from their hands which offered them to him. He glanced at them for a short time and nodded in silence and handed them back. He left from the end of the carriage which faced the one he had come through and went on through the train.
She put her ticket back in her bag. He put his in his pocket. He looked around where they sat. There was no-one there but the two of them. She touched the pad and then his bag to have him put back one in the other.
She stood. She took his hand and waved that he should get up. He stood. She faced him and put her hands on his shoulders. She took the hand on his right and put it upon the small of her back. She took his hand which was free in hers and then looked at him and smiled.
Then she stepped out into the gangway and he stepped with her. He showed some awkwardness. She just smiled and then stepped back into the gaps between the seats. She then did the same with a step and a repeat of it. He tracked her moves. Then, with the two of them stood between the seats she smiled and nodded. He stepped with caution into the gangway. She smiled and nodded. Then he stepped back to the gaps between the seats. She shook her head with vigour. He led her to the gangway. She nodded.
On instinct he turned around with her so that they faced each other as they stood in the gangway. She smiled and nodded as if she were keen. Then step by step, he led her down the gangway along to the end of the carriage. On her face were the signs of laughter but she was silent. When they got to the end, he led her back, step by step, until they were back by their seats. He turned them and stepped back into the gap between the seats. She hugged him and kissed him on the check. Then she gestured that he sit back down. So he did.
He felt the train slow down as the train pulled into a station. She looked into his eyes. She took his hand in hers and she smiled.
He heard a hiss. The doors opened up down the carriage. A mother entered. Her children squabbled with her. A pair of men in suits got on, and talked, with animation about some meeting.
But he saw nothing but her. She pulled him to her and kissed him with tenderness on his lips. He looked into her eyes with ecstasy. She smiled now with warmth and then spoke:
“I love you too…”