Her mistake

by Jenny

She looked tired, just come off a late shift probably and not the first one this week. She had that faraway look they sometimes got. Nurses especially, but this one wasn’t a nurse. She looked more like a bar manager or a cleaner with her black tights and zipped up hoody and glazed stare

She sat opposite him and he watched her, leaning back, lazy, not pretending he wasn’t staring. He saw her look down at the old scruffy coat thrown over his knee and his jiggling leg - loose change jangling in his pocket, saw her look of revulsion as she shifted back into her seat and gazed pointedly out of the window.

The bus rattled and gasped its way along, stopping for breath at traffic lights and bus stops, though nobody else joined them. They were completely alone.

The bright strip lights of the bus sealed a wrap of darkness around the windows trapping them there together in an sealed box of sticky floors, stained furry seats, chewing gum, graffiti, damp, greying wet smears along the floor. Brilliantly lit for all the world to observe from the outside, with only their reflections and each other for company.

He knew she could see him watching her in the reflection. Good.

It was easy to slip her phone from her pocket as she picked her way past him, easy to follow her silently and wait for the perfect moment to let her know he was behind her. He adopted a terrifying, loping gait that urged him forward almost uncontrollably, casting his long shadow over hers as they walked, her low heels click clacking, his heavy tread, lumbering, weighty.

He knew they were getting close when she sped up and gripped her keys tighter in her hand. This was his favourite part, the moment it had all been building to.

“Excuse me?!

He saw her tense and choose to ignore it. They always did that.

“You...you left your phone on the bus, but I’ve brought it for you” he told her, or something like that. Any old bullshit would do from now on. When she saw the tremor of his hands and finally met his eyes he knew she was hooked.

He watched her walk up the stairs ahead of him. She was thin, too thin to be pretty, but easy to hold. He could sense her excitement. How long had it been, he wondered, since someone besides the TV license man had been up here?

She turned on the lights and showed him to the settee while she made the tea. The room was sad and dull, a sad dull life for this sad dull woman. A few paperbacks, cat hairs, Lovejoy series 2 through 5 on DVD. A half drunk bottle of Pino with the cork wedged back in. He heard the sound of two cups placed on the laminate countertop and realised he was already bored of this. He stood up and waited for her to turn around so he could see her face as she realised her mistake.

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