The Next Stop: A Fortnightly Series
I am proud to present this illustration for this series. Savannah and Raife are brought to life beautifully, and I am happy to promote the artist- Sarah Rebtine, a graphic design student from Austria. Tweet her to see her latest work and information on commissions: @Sarah_Rebtine
Scroll down to catch the first episode of the series and begin Savannah’s mysterious journey…
What am I doing here?
I am at an event of a dead artist who I kissed last week!! And who I had plans to meet on Friday evening!! The thought brought another round of goose bumps. I shivered and looked around. The place was a typical culture gathering; wine, cheese, soft jazz tunes, and intellectual looking people with prominent glasses. People walked around and talked in little groups. Everybody was calm and inquisitive… so different to the latest art party I went to.
Should I tell him? Of course not, that would sound absolutely senile: ‘‘Oh by the way, I’m from the future and you’re this really cool artist and people are eating cheese sticks while looking at your drawings that are probably of me’’. Yeah… that would just do the trick. I should write a book about how to give men seizures.
I tried to take a bite of my cracker. The crumbs fell onto my shirt front and I brushed them away, feeling like a loner. Ok, I have to admit. I came because I was a bit curious of Chris. He looked so much like Raife; the hair, the eyes, the pensive expression. I wanted to know more. I wanted to hear the stories about his- dare I say it?- great-grandfather. It made me feel both spooked but connected to this whole phenomenon.
From what I gathered from this afternoon, I played only a small part in Raife’s life. Or was I really the muse?
He married Emily. That’s what hit home the most. Yes they speculated that it was an unhappy marriage because it lasted one year. But they had a child. They were a family of sort. Maybe it was actually Emily who left him. So, did he leave me? Did we drift apart? Or most likely our relationship just couldn’t work. The special train must have just stopped. A part of me, Ok a huge part, knew this was going to happen. I just… thought it would last a little longer. I was getting into the swing of things, embracing the craziness. I feel like something special had been snatched away… And then he went to fight in the war… The thought made my eyes prick painfully.
Sighing, I shuffled over to another drawing. I have seen them all. This one was the inside of a train. There were passengers crowding the scene. The sharp, dynamic lines made it look like it was moving. There was so much energy on the page. I wanted to reach my hand over and touch it. But I knew I’d get rugby tackled down by security or something.
I spun around. Chris was standing behind me with two wine glasses in his hand.
‘‘Hi!’’ I responded. Why does he keep catching me by surprise?
‘‘You came!’’ He said smiling good-naturedly. ‘‘I actually saw you in the distance and noticed you didn’t have a glass’’, he continued, slowly handing me the wine.
I took it to be polite. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to start drinking. God I wanted to, but there was a chance I might start spilling the weird juice.
‘‘Thanks so much’’, I said, taking a little sip.
‘‘I don’t think I ever caught your name?’’ he asked.
‘‘It’s Savannah Plath. You can call me Savi, everybody does’’, I replied, trying to keep this conversation normal. ‘‘And I know exactly who you are!’’
‘‘Yes’’, he said with a little chuckle. He laughed like Raife too… ‘‘Tonight is the first time I’m famous’’.
There was a pause. ‘‘We are very grateful that you came. We could even count you as a fan of the artist?’’, he asked again, this time sounding playful.
‘‘You can say that’’, I replied, smiling nervously. ‘‘Can I ask you though, how come it is you that is presenting this exhibition, instead of your father or grandfather, as they would have known him?’’
He nodded patiently, as if this question has been asked before. ‘‘Well my grandfather is frankly too old to be running around hosting. As for my dad, well like I told you, he didn’t know Raife very well. To be honest, none of us knew much about him. I was helping my grandfather move houses and I came across this box in the attic. It had a lot of letters, photos and mainly drawings. I thought they were pretty amazing, I did some Art History at Uni, and so I contacted one of my old teachers to have a look. And here we are really’’, he said smiling genially.
‘‘Wow’’, was all I could say.
‘‘Yeah’’, he replied. ‘‘Sometimes the most interesting people are the closest. Maybe have a background check on your ancestors!’’ He laughed.
‘‘My great grandparents were farmers in rural America, so nowhere near as exciting’’, I said.
‘‘Hmm… where abouts?’’ he asked in mock wonder.
I had to laugh. The guy was charming. Runs in the family I guess. Suddenly, I heard the sound of glass chinking. A woman, Prof. Janet, was at the podium ready to speak. Chris looked at me and jokingly placed a finger to his lips. I couldn’t help but smile.
The Professor welcomed the guests and talked a lot about art movements. There were a few brief talks from other art historians. And then Chris was asked on stage. He thanked everyone for coming and pretty much told the same story he told me about finding the box in his attic. What I wouldn’t give to have a rummage through myself…
I didn’t get another chance to talk to Chris as he was bombarded with guests after the talks. I decided it was time to leave.
Clairyfairy: Hey Sav, ur online! Hows the date coming along?
Savi: He’s not here yet.
Clairyfairy: What?! :O but its been an hour!!!
Savi: I know…
Clairyfairy: OMG don’t tell me the SOB stood you up. Has he called?
Clairyfairy: Have you called?
Clairyfairy: Sav, are you ok?
Savi: I don’t know…
Clairyfairy: I’m really sorry…L L L L
Clairyfairy: Look come round here, we’re not doing much just having take-out and a movie.
Savi: Its ok, I just want to go home. I’ll call you later ok?
I looked up from my phone. I was outside Warren street station. It started to rain. I just have to face it. This was over. The exhibition pretty much summed it up. The magical Monday time-travel train was gone. The portal had closed. I would never see Raife again. He would go on to marry Emily and be an artist. Would he be happy? I really hope he was.
I walked back into the station and collided into someone.
‘‘Woah!’’ I heard a man shout and felt two hands on my shoulder. ‘‘I’m- so sorry- Savi!’’
I looked up and saw Chris. I blinked.
‘‘Its you!’’ I said blankly.
‘‘Yeah’’, he said grinning. ‘‘I didn’t catch you after the party’’.
‘‘Oh, sorry’’, I replied. ‘‘I had to go’’.
‘‘Look this sounds very upfront, but do you want to grab some food?’’ He asked, looking a little anxious. ‘‘I just came back from work and I was going to pop into a place round the corner’’.
I hesitated. Would the situation do more damage? I was still upset about Raife. But the thought of being with Chris gave me comfort, rather than the creeps. I guess I was a little hungry…
‘‘Ok sure, why not?’’ I said.
‘‘Great!!’’ He took out a long umbrella, which made me smile. We started walking.
‘‘You know, this is very weird. But I think you look so much like the muse in the drawings’’, he said, sounding cautious.
‘‘Yes that is weird’’, I replied firmly.
‘‘You don’t sound surprised’’, he said.
‘‘Well…There has been a lot of surprising things that have been going on lately’’, I said slowly.
‘‘If I tell you, its going to knock the socks out of ‘weird’’’, I said, placing my phone back into my bag. Something unfamiliar brushed against my hand. I took it out. It was the packet of ‘Craven ‘A’’ cigarettes that I was meaning to return to Raife. I smiled at it sadly.
‘‘Now you have to tell me’’, Chris said opening the door to the fast-food joint. I followed him in and we sat down on cheap plastic seats.
‘‘Well you are probably going to run from me screaming’’, I said.
Now he grinned and I saw a shadow of Raife on his face. He was here. Somehow he made it back to me.
I grinned back and placed the cigarette packet in front of Chris.
‘‘This is yours’’, I began…
f you have enjoyed this little read scroll down for the first episode. Check my tweets for updates on continuing the series! @CeliaMoontown
I’d love to hear any comments you have, share your thoughts below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘‘You have 10 minutes’’, I said in a busy coffee shop. It was Monday afternoon during my lunch break. I was in a bad mood because the special train hadn’t come this morning and I was worried that the time-warp may have closed up. I know, thinking of it sounds ridiculous.
I had texted Duncan back, saying it was either this time or no time. No way was I going to have a dinner with him so close to my scheduled date with Raife. It would ruin my whole weekend. Plus, a dinner would require me to sit through an entire hour of what? Grovelling? Drunken pleas? Who knows these days?
I probably shouldn’t have replied back. Claire would kill me. I hated myself for clicking send. But there was and always will be, unless I get some sort of closure, that lingering curiosity. We were the perfect couple. Or so on the outside. We loved each other, lived together and made future plans. Until I caught him cheating and I rushed out of there without a moment’s hesitation and it was over like that. Maybe there was always something missing if I ended it so quickly, without even trying to work it out. The thought of my decision always nagged at me, made me pick up his calls and regret it afterwards.
Closure. That was what I need and what I was going to get, even if I have to force it out of him. I am finally moving on. And yes it was in the most bizarre way possible. But my relationship with Duncan was what you would have called normal, and that didn’t work out.
‘‘Thanks for meeting me. I would have preferred to take you out somewhere nicer’’, said Duncan, taking a sip of his coffee.
‘‘Well I didn’t think that would be appropriate. And I have plans this weekend’’, I replied. Looking into the face I used to be so crazy about.
‘‘That’s… understandable’’, he said. ‘‘Look, I need to apologise about calling you all this time. I have actually been getting help for my drinking.’’
I looked into his bright blue eyes, so different from Raife’s amber ones. He looked pretty miserable, I have to admit.
‘‘And I have been getting a lot better’’, he continued slowly. ‘‘And… I would really want us to get back together’’.
I stared at him. It felt weird. I was so used to chaotic arguments with him for the past few months that this calm tone threw me off. I had wanted something like this for ages. A sensible and adult conversation about our relationship. Why can’t you ever get what you want at the right time?
‘‘Duncan’’, I began. But he interrupted me.
‘‘I’ve got your necklace’’, he said, taking out a familiar silver chain from his pocket. I quickly took it.
‘‘I thought I lost this!’’ I cried, looking at the star-shaped charm.
‘‘I’m sorry. I kind of kept it, in case you came back’’, he said, looking sheepish.
‘‘Duncan’’, I said again, looking up. ‘‘I’m seeing someone’’.
He looked dejected and nodded. ‘‘Well, I guess I came too late’’.
‘‘I guess’’, I said.
‘‘Who is he?’’ he asked.
‘‘His name is Raife’’, I said wearily. I really did not want to continue along this topic.
‘‘Is he someone from work?’’
‘‘Er yeah- look Duncan. Thank you for getting my necklace back. But I should get going. I’ve still got a lot of work to do’’, I said, quickly finishing my tea and getting up.
Duncan got up too. He leaned down to kiss me on the cheek. ‘‘Savi. I’m happy for you. But if you ever find that you’re not, you know where to go’’.
‘‘Right’’, I nodded uncomfortably, ‘‘take care’’.
I walked out of the coffee shop feeling a little dazed. The weather was chilly but the sun was almost blinding. I walked down a few side streets heading towards the river bank. It was a usual busy day in the city. People were rushing out of their offices for lunch at Pret or Itsu. I walked past the Courtauld Gallery at Somerset house when something caught my eye and I back-tracked.
There was a poster advertising the latest exhibitions. Some were famous artists that I recognized. But there was one that stood out. And it was available right now:
Raife Marlow: Studies in Charcoal (1925-40). A rare and exclusive collection of a private artist who inspired notable names such as Picasso. Hosted by Prof. Janet Spears and Christopher Marlow, the artist’s great grandson.
I stood there, my blood running cold and my fingers trembling. Could this be… him? I swallowed and tried to breathe. I couldn’t believe this was happening. The world was going mad. After a few intakes of cold air, I felt a little calmer. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. I snorted to myself. Fat chance! Things have turned upside down since I was late that first Monday.
I looked at my phone. I had 45 minutes to be back at the office. Should I risk having a quick look around the exhibition, just to check? But how could I deal with it if it is Raife’s work? If I go back to the office, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. And I would end up coming here anyway, let’s face it. I was too curious.
I stepped inside and paid for my ticket. I handed everything to the cloak room except my phone. I took a deep breath and went inside. It was a small exhibit, covering only two rooms. The majority of the art were paper drawings beautifully framed on the walls. Being a work day, the place was pretty empty. There were a few tourists and an elderly couple scattered around.
I took a program from a smiley assistant, trying not to show that my hands were shaking and going sweaty. I moved to the closest drawing and looked down at the program. It had an artist profile and descriptions of his work. But I didn’t get to read the second part because I saw without a doubt that it was Raife. There was a black and white photo of him. He looked happy. I read the profile written by Prof. Spears.
Raife Marlow (1900-1945) was born and raised in the East end of London. He followed his father’s footsteps and became a bank technician at Lloyds Bank during his early 20s. He soon gave up his day job to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He was given financial support from his friend and noted artist Thomas Finnegan (see page 3 for details of Finnegan’s work and exhibitions). He died in France during the Second World War before his work reached critical acclaim. However, art historians like myself find connections between his pieces and that of Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.
This exhibition looks at Marlow’s early sketches in charcoal during the most active period of his career. Most of the subject matter of these drawings is dominated by a single muse. He married Emily Duggan, lead dancer and later restaurant owner, in 1930 and had one child. It is believed that photos of her do not resemble the muse in his drawings. The marriage ended after only two years, which lead us to speculate that it was an unhappy one.
My heart beating very fast, I stopped reading and looked up at the drawing. It was very simple, just charcoal on white paper. The strokes and shadowing looked bold, confident and raw. I imagined his hand passionately moving across the paper. I tried to make out what it showed. A woman in a bed. She looked untidy but her face was calm and beautiful.
I spun around in fright.
‘‘I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to frighten you! Hey, are you alright?’’ A tall young man was standing behind me. He had light brown hair that curled attractively and eyes that were…amber. He looked down at me with concern. This was when I realised that my eyes were watery.
‘‘Oh, yes’’, I said, trying to pull myself together. My voice sounded as if I had a head cold. ‘‘I’m just a bit tired that’s all’’. I tried to smile so I looked normal.
‘‘I can fetch the helpdesk if you need anything?’’ He continued, still looking worried.
‘‘No I’m fine. Thanks’’, I replied, shaking my head.
‘‘Are you enjoying the exhibit?’’
‘‘Huh? Oh yes, yes I am’’, I said, feeling awkward.
He looked at the drawing. ‘‘It’s so exposed, so passionate…’’.
I looked back at it too, almost sighing. ‘‘Yes… it is’’.
‘‘Sorry. I should have introduced myself’’, he turned around to me. ‘‘I’m Chris Marlow’’.
The recognition hit me hard.
‘‘Oh!’’ I said, my eyes widening and probably looking like a lunatic.
He nodded good-naturedly. ‘‘I like to get involved with everyone who is here to see my great granddad’s work. I’m glad you’re enjoying it’’.
‘‘Did you know him well at all?’’ I asked without thinking.
‘‘I didn’t at all I’m afraid’’, he replied, and I remembered the dates on the program. Chris would have been born long after. ‘‘My dad has stories. Says he was very guarded and distracted. He travelled a lot after he had my granddad, wasn’t really around much’’.
There was a pause.
‘‘Wow’’, was all I could say.
‘‘Yeah’’, said Chris. ‘‘Artist’s lives and their works. It’s always fascinating’’.
‘‘You look a lot like him’’, I blurted before I could stop myself. ‘‘From what I can see from the photo’’. I lifted up the program.
‘‘Oh, do I?’’ he laughed. He looked back at the drawing. ‘‘I don’t know if you have had a chance to look at the other drawings but this woman, his muse, she’s got us all a bit obsessed. Prof. Spears, the curator, has no idea who she is’’.
‘‘She’s very interesting’’, I said quietly. Could it be… me?
‘‘She’s beautiful’’. I looked sideways at him. He was looking down at me with a funny expression which instantly cleared.
‘‘We are having an event tonight. There will be talks about the drawings and my dad’s coming along too. There’s going to be drinks and food’’, he handed me a flyer. ‘‘you should come along’’.
‘‘Oh’’, I said taking it, ‘‘Maybe’’.
‘‘We would love to have you’’, he smiled. ‘‘Well, enjoy the rest of the exhibit’’. He then walked away, towards the elderly couple.
f you have enjoyed this little read catch up with Savannah in two weeks. Check my tweets for updates! @CeliaMoontown
I’d love to hear any comments you have, share your thoughts below or email me: email@example.com
I felt like I had to swim through the crowd as the party started getting bigger. I dodged past a group of old men, their bellies bursting and their whisky glasses sloshing everywhere. But I collided into a gang of young women who seemed to be doing the can-can, or trying to, as they kept collapsing everywhere. One of them linked her arm around mine, thinking that I was one of her friends.
‘‘Matilda!!’’ she cried, tears of laughter streaking her make-up.
‘‘Sorry, I’m not her’’, I said awkwardly, trying to prise her hand away. The fumes of smoke were starting to make my own eyes teary.
I quickly dashed back to the dark hallway where everything was quiet. I looked around. Where could they have gone? People normally put the coats in the bedroom don’t they?
I looked up. Above the stairs I saw one door that was ajar and I saw a sliver of light. I quietly walked up to the landing. There were voices coming from the door left ajar. I slowly crept towards it. Through the crack I saw Raife’s tall outline. His back was turned. I couldn’t see Emily. But then I heard her languid tones.
‘‘But I miss you Raife…’’.
I quickly ducked to stand beside the door hinge, in case anyone decided to burst out.
‘‘Emily I have told you a hundred times. It’s over. Go back to Bertie’’, replied Raife, sounding tired. My heart started going into over-drive.
Emily let out a squeak of impatience.
‘‘Emily stop that. I’ve found someone else now alright?’’
Emily groaned loudly and let out a sarcastic laugh. ‘‘Oh and you’ve ask her to come to this little party have you? Taking her coat like a good chaperone?’’ she asked sardonically. ‘‘Since when are you decent?’’
‘‘Emily…’’, Raife almost growled with warning.
‘‘Ursula’s told me all about her and whatever piece of cloth she thinks is a dress. You can hardly expect me to feel threatened’’, she said spitefully.
‘‘Emily I’m warning you!’’ shouted Raife.
‘‘Fine! Play your little games. Have a mental crisis for all I care. Just don’t embarrass me while you’re off with your new found fun’’, Emily retorted icily. ‘‘And when you come crawling back. I might not want you anymore’’.
There were approaching footsteps. I flattened myself into the shadows. The door swung open and Emily sauntered off through the corridor and down the stairs, her shoes piercing the floorboards noisily. I heard Raife move around inside the room. My heart was still hammering. I stood frozen, a range of emotions swirling inside my head; confusion, anger, happiness….
I cautiously entered the room. ‘‘Raife?’’
He spun around. ‘‘Sav!’’
He looked wide-eyed and shocked. ‘‘I- Did you?-’’.
‘‘I heard’’, I replied grimacing a little, seeing the horror on his face.
‘‘Look Emily was- she’s not anymore, and you are-’’, he started looking very uncomfortable. It was very adorable to watch I must admit.
I took a deep breath. ‘‘Raife I need some air’’.
He gazed back at me. ‘‘Of course!’’
We walked down the stairs together. He lead me down the dark corridor where there was a back-door leading out into a garden. The cold air relaxed me. I didn’t realise that I had been sweating so much. Raife put his hands in his pockets and looked around the garden. It was too dark to see anything.
‘‘Raife…’’, I began. He turned to look at me. His face glowed from a lantern that stood nearby. I felt myself getting lost again in the amber colour and looked away.
‘‘I don’t really belong here…’’
‘‘Sav… Listen’’, he said, taking a step towards me. All my instincts told me to step back, but I stayed rooted to the spot. I couldn’t even feel my legs. ‘‘I am truly sorry that this party is getting off to a terrible start’’.
‘‘It’s not that’’, I replied fiddling nervously with my bag. ‘‘It’s very difficult to explain. I’m not sure if I want to, you’d think I’m crazy’’.
‘‘This whole thing is pretty crazy’’, he said. ‘‘All I know is that I just… really want to get to know you… The mysterious girl from the train’’.
He said this last bit with a little grin that definitely hit me on the knees.
‘‘I think you were more mysterious than I was’’, I said trying to grin back.
He chuckled, moving closer and gently placing his hand on my chin. My breath caught. He tilted my chin up slowly and gazed down at me. He stopped smiling. My lips parted expectantly. I didn’t have to wait long. He swooped down and kissed me. It wasn’t like the unexpected kiss on the train. This one was deeper, longer, and searching. I felt myself relaxing and placed both my hands on his neck feeling a few soft strands of his hair. He responded by wrapping his arms around my back and tightening his grip. I felt myself being crushed into the warmth of his chest. I forgot where I was, who I was and began to lose myself into the strangeness of the night.
Everything in my life had always been part of a plan, each detail carefully organised. School to university to job to marriage to what? The first time in my life I felt like I had lost control and it was a good feeling. Life was full of insane things. Perhaps I just had to go with what felt right. And standing here in Raife’s arms definitely felt right.
The kisses became more fervent. His hand began to wander in places I never let anyone go on a first date. Although my dress wasn’t exactly putting up any barriers. After a few more passionate minutes we slowly broke apart to take in deep gulps of breath. He gently pushed away a strand of my hair that had fallen into my eyes.
‘‘Damn it darling. I’m trying to be a gentleman’’, he said throatily.
‘‘I never asked for one’’, I said smiling slyly back at him. Wow, is this really Savannah Plath?!
‘‘Look I’d rather spend the rest of the night here. But we must at least take a look at Tom’s paintings and I did promise you a drink’’, he said smiling back. Offering me his hand.
‘‘Yes you did’’, I said firmly taking his hand, but not really wanting to budge from our spot.
‘‘And?!’’ cried Claire through the phone on Saturday evening. I was back on my favourite spot on the sofa, a cup of tea warming my hand and ready to watch wedding gown shows.
‘‘And we went back to the party, looked at the paintings, talked to Tom the artist some of his friends’’, I replied casually, thinking back to how Raife’s arms were firmly wrapped around my shoulder the whole time. I had even started to enjoy the loudness of the party. I thought back to the look of Raife’s face after I took a sip of the praised whisky and quickly spat it out on an old man who was too drunk to notice. Raife burst out laughing and gave me a quick kiss. The memory was doing a better job of warming me than my tea.
‘‘We did some dancing-’’
‘‘You danced?!’’ cried Claire starting to laugh.
‘‘Well it was kind of a party slash exhibit…’’.
‘‘But you danced?! You, the girl who always disappears when there’s ever any music?’’
‘‘I don’t know I got lost in the moment I guess…’’, I said, thinking back to when the music slowed down, Raife lead me towards the band and began twirling me around. Tom’s fiancée Annie, who was also dancing, gave me a knowing wink and I smiled back. When the music sped up, the girls who called me ‘Matilda’ accosted me and tried to get me to dance with them. Raife stood laughing as I tried the can-can move and doubled-up with laughter myself.
‘‘And then we went for a quick drink at a pub down the road and talked. And then he took me home in a cab’’, I finished.
I heard Claire sigh wistfully. ‘‘Sounded like it was really fun. I know I didn’t like Raife before but I have to admit that that was a good date’’.
‘‘It was…’’, I said, sighing myself. Thinking back to when Raife and I both sat in a corner of the pub; me telling him about my parents and my new job, and listening to him saying how he wanted to be an artist like Tom.
‘‘Well you are definitely dancing at my wedding now. When are you seeing him again?’’
‘‘Next week!’’ I cried, beaming to myself. Claire did a whoop on my behalf.
‘‘Yeah…’’, I said dreamily. Nothing had gone wrong, apart from bumping into Ursula on my way to the bathroom at Tom’s place. Emily was nowhere to be seen, probably leaving her side-kick to spy for her. She stood there and stared at me as I walked past. A very sticky moment.
‘‘Did you guys…?’’, asked Claire slyly.
‘‘No!’’ I cried feeling myself go red. I thought back to the intense stolen minutes after the cab pulled outside my apartment block and he walked me to the door. I had let his lips wander down my neck and this time there was no mistaking where his hands went.
‘‘Hm… third date rule I guess’’, said Claire giggling.
I sighed wearily. This all seemed too good to be true. Well it was if I let myself think about the mysterious time difference. But I’ve decided to ignore it and enjoy myself.
‘‘I’ve got to go’’, said Claire. ‘‘Dinner’s ready’’.
‘‘Ok! Talk to you later’’.
‘‘Bye babe’’, and she hung up. Before I turned on the T.V, I saw that I had two missed calls and a text from Duncan. Why have I not blocked him already? Groaning, I opened to read it.
Savi, I know I have no right to contact you again. But I really want to see you. There are a lot of things I need to say. Can we please have dinner next week? Also I think I found your necklace.
‘‘ARRGH!’’, I flung the phone across the room. Then got up and went to check that it was still working.
f you have enjoyed this little read catch up with Savannah in two weeks. Check my tweets for updates! @CeliaMoontown
I’d love to hear any comments you have, share your thoughts below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
‘‘You’re going on a date with him’’, said Claire slowly, her eye-brows raised skeptically.
We had met up for coffee after work on Thursday. I sipped my drink, trying to act as calm as possible.
‘‘It’s not an official date. We’re going to an art exhibit. There will be a lot of people. It’s not romantic’’, I replied. I didn’t mention the offer of drinks after the event. The thought of it kept turning me into excitable jelly.
‘‘Hm…’’, said Claire, ‘‘and which gallery is this?’’
‘‘I don’t know- But’’, I quickly said, seeing the look on her face, ‘‘It must be nearby, I’ve looked up some places on the internet’’.
There was a pause. ‘‘Look, you were the one who said I should go out more to get over Duncan’’, I continued, starting to get a bit annoyed.
‘‘Yes but not with randos who kiss on the northern line!’’ replied Claire. She sighed. ‘‘Just install that tracker app on your phone just as a precaution?’’
‘‘Fine…’’, I said, ‘‘If that would make you feel better’’.
‘‘Yes it would’’, said Claire firmly. Her expression softened. ‘‘So… what are you going to wear?’’
I smiled. I had spent the whole week planning my outfit. Knowing where we were going, I wanted to look classy and alluring at the same time.
‘‘The black dress from Michael Kors that Duncan threw a lung about, so I never wore it’’.
‘‘Ooh I remember! That would look so good with your new hair colour!’’, cried Claire enthusiastically.
‘‘Yeah… By the way where can I get that hat with the mesh that covers half your face?’’
‘‘What, you mean a birds nest? Why would you want one of those? They’re only for super formal events like weddings’’, said Claire, looking confused.
‘‘I don’t know, he… hangs around with formal looking people’’, I said cautiously. I didn’t want to mention Emily and who I suspected her to be, especially now Claire was getting round to the idea that Raife may not be a mad man.
‘‘I honestly don’t think it would suit your hair. Its so wavy the hat would just get lost. And why would you want to cover your face?’’
‘‘Yeah you’re right’’, I replied distractedly. I would just have to pluck up the courage and ask him about her tomorrow.
At 18.55 I stood waiting outside Warren street station. It was starting to get cold. I clutched my bag nervously looking around for any signs of him. I didn’t want to think of the possibility of being stood up. The station was crowded with people finishing work and going home. At 19.00 precisely I stepped back under the station roof. I felt some flecks of rain falling on my cheek. It just figures it would rain and I didn’t bring an umbrella because of my small bag.
I spun round. Raife stood next to me wearing a long beige mackintosh and holding out a large umbrella.
‘‘Raife! I didn’t see you!’’ I cried surprised and even more flustered when he swooped down and kissed me on the cheek. I looked up at him. He looked better than when I last saw him on Monday. There was a slight grin on his face. I felt his amber coloured eyes boring into me again and felt my body warming rapidly.
‘‘Thank you for coming’’, he said, his deep voice reverberating through me.
‘‘No problem’’, I said, feeling shaky.
‘‘Shall we go?’’ He said holding out his arm. I took it, feeling how hard it felt underneath his coat.
He held out the umbrella over both of us as we walked. The rain was starting to pour heavily.
‘‘So where is the exhibition?’’ I asked.
‘‘It’s at his studio, or I should say his home. I’m afraid it won’t be very fancy. But we do all think he’s very talented. Ah here we are!’’
We rounded a corner onto a street of town houses. The street was dark and empty apart from one house at the end which had all its lights on. I could hear loud voices and music blaring from inside. As we walked closer I could see people standing on the doorsteps under a shelter. There were two men smoking and a woman wrapped in a fur coat. As we walked up to them they stared at us. The woman had very dark, made-up eyes.
‘‘Marlow old boy! Didn’t expect to see you!’’, cried one of the men bouncing forward to wring Raife’s hand and getting drenched in the process. The woman giggled.
‘‘Ah damn it all!’’ he said smoothing out his hair and returning to the shelter.
‘‘Well I did promise Tom I would come’’, replied Raife. I felt him stiffening a little beside me.
‘‘Who’s your gorgeous new friend?’’ asked the other man, blowing a bit unnecessarily from his cigarette. To my surprise, Raife placed his hand round my shoulders.
‘‘This is Savannah Plath. Miss. Plath, this is Edward-’’ he motioned the man who just got wet, ‘‘Carlton-’’, the man puffing smoke, ‘‘and Ursula’’, the woman in fur.
I smiled cautiously back and nodded my head to each person. Ursula did not smile back.
‘‘Pleased to meet you’’, I said awkwardly. I was starting to feel uneasy about the event which seemed more like a house party. I could hear loud music blaring from inside.
‘‘Miss? That’s quite formal for you Marlow’’, laughed Carlton.
Raife ignored him and gently steered me to the door. Edward stopped him just as we were about to enter.
‘‘A warning. The dragon’s here tonight. I would stay clear unless you want a good blow up. Horrid for you, but good fun for us.’’
I looked at Raife who was looking very irritated.
‘‘I would stay clear of the hard stuff Edward. We wouldn’t want to cart you off anywhere again’’, he replied. Edward turned away grumbling. Ursula giggled again.
‘‘I’m sorry about the tasteless people’’, Raife said to me as we got inside. ‘‘I’m ashamed to say I once thought they were my friends’’.
‘‘That’s alright’’, I said, taking off my coat. It was very warm inside. We were in a dimly lit hallway. I was starting to think this was a bad idea. I looked up to see him staring at me.
‘‘You look…wow’’ he said, gazing wide-eyed down at my dress. I felt a blush creeping up my neck. The dress, although it covered my knees, was body hugging and I started to feel very conscious.
We stepped into a room that was making the loudest noise. It was a large and crowded sitting room. The furniture had been pushed into the corners to make space for the guests. To one side, a small band was blasting fast-paced jazz notes. Above the heads of people I could see the walls taken up with large canvases splashed with bold paint. But it wasn’t the strangeness of having an art gallery in someone’s home that made my jaw drop. I had stepped into an actual 1920s party. And it was stunning. And I was definitely underdressed.
There were tassels, headbands and feathers everywhere. Women were laughing hysterically and dancing in a cloud of smoke. Men with oiled-back hair were sitting in circles clutching whisky glasses and talking loudly.
‘‘Raife!’’ someone shouted in the distant. We turned around. A young man wearing suspenders was making his way through a group of people. ‘‘Glad you can make it’’, he said shaking Raife’s hand and smiling broadly.
Raife turned to me. ‘‘This is Tom Finnegan, the artist’’.
‘‘Oh right! Nice to meet you!’’ I said as Tom also shook my hand, after looking at me curiously.
‘‘This is Savannah Plath’’, said Raife.
‘‘Ah…’’, said Tom. ‘‘Yes I can see. There’s a Pre-Raphaelite look about you…’’.
‘‘Right’’, said Raife again. ‘‘Well fantastic crowd’’.
‘‘Thanks chap’’, replied Tom turning away from me, ‘‘the party’s getting a bit out of hand actually. Someone spotted a thirty-year old whisky. Let’s just hope some dealers get a glass.’’. A man in the distant shouted Tom’s name.
‘‘I’ll be back soon’’, he said, after looking over his shoulder. ‘‘You two enjoy the art’’. He winked and moved back into the crowd.
I looked up at Raife. ‘‘Interesting man’’.
‘‘He’s a good fellow. But you know artists…’’, he replied with a grin. ‘‘Why don’t I take your coat and get you a drink?’’
‘‘Sounds good’’, I replied. He moved away with the coats leaving me looking at one of the paintings. Before I could make up my mind about it, I heard a familiar squeal.
I turned around and tried to look through the crowd. I saw Emily, looking absolutely beautiful, even from a distant. Raife was by the door. He turned around and said something. But I couldn’t catch what he said.
People kept blocking my view. I shifted my head from side to side, probably looking drunk. At one moment I saw Emily drape herself across Raife and a second later he was gone.
‘‘Raife!’’ I heard her call again, walking out of the room to follow him.
I quickly turned back to the painting. I looked at the abstract style and its raw brush markings. And then, feeling reckless, I turned around and headed out of the room to follow them.
If you have enjoyed this little read catch up with Savannah in two weeks. Check my tweets for updates! @CeliaMoontown
‘‘You did WHAT?’’ bellowed Claire’s voice through my phone. I could practically feel the vibrations of my best friend’s incredulity.
‘‘We kissed…’’, I replied meekly. It was finally the weekend and I was enjoying the opportunity of huddling on the sofa with a mug of tea. I had a few episodes of wedding gown shows lined up to watch.
‘‘You kissed a complete stranger on the tube’’, said Claire, each word weighing with horror and disbelief. ‘‘Do you know how many loonies there are in London? A lot. And they all congregate in the underground’’
‘‘I know it sounds absolutely crazy and out of character’’, I began. Claire snorted through the phone. ‘‘But you didn’t see him. He was… He was different. Like a gentleman, you know?’’
‘‘A gentleman who goes around harassing innocent young women? He might be one of those serial weirdoes and kissing is his fetish or whatever’’.
I knew it was a mistake to watch that one episode of ‘Crime-watch’ with Claire, who was paranoid about everything and sympathised with Doomsday prep-pers.
‘‘He wasn’t crazy Claire. We chatted and then when it was my stop he walked me to the door. I mean who does that? And then it happened’’. Claire didn’t answer. I could see her face frowning.
‘‘I don’t know Savi… I’m really worried now.’’
‘‘Don’t be, I can look after myself. Anyway Duncan called the night before, I woke up late and was panicking like a freak so I don’t know maybe I hallucinated the whole scene’’.
Claire groaned. ‘‘Duncan called? Oh Sav I’m really sorry. You shouldn’t have picked up!’’
‘‘I know…’’, I sighed. ‘‘I just- I have that part of me that’s curious, you know? I mean you were the same with Adam.’’
Claire made a noise of agreement.
‘‘He calls up whenever he gets lonely and I have to remind him that he was the one who cheated and left and I- I always pick up the phone like a bloody fool’’.
‘‘I know’’, Claire replied soothingly. ‘‘Well, anyway how was your first day? Being late and everything’’
‘‘It was good actually’’, I replied. ‘‘I wasn’t late it turned out. When I got off the tube, I was actually a bit early. After that, the week has gone by pretty smoothly. I’m not saying it has been easy, but I am enjoying it so far.’’
‘‘But that’s brilliant!’’ Claire said enthusiastically, ‘‘maybe your phone was just acting weird that first day. I’m so glad it’s been going really well’’.
‘‘Yeah maybe…’’, I replied distractedly. I wasn’t going to tell Claire my theory as to what might have happened to the time. I didn’t want her to make calls to a psychiatric ward.
Could I really have gone back in time, and to the 1920s? I had spent my lunch breaks googling the history of the underground, the publication of The Great Gatsby, 20s fashion trends and cigarette brands. The box of ‘Craven ‘A’’ was still in my bag. The research seemed to fit, but it didn’t make the whole notion any less crazy.
‘‘Savi…’’, began Claire, her tone weary.
‘‘You haven’t met up with him again have you?’’
‘‘Yes Raife, if that is his real name’’, replied Claire darkly.
‘‘No I haven’t seen him since Monday’’, I said, trying not to sound disappointed.
I had tried every morning that week to catch the exact train I had on that day, but each service was the usual Northern line carriage. There were no wood panelling, communal benches, formal suits and no Raife. Maybe it had all been a dream. I had even looked up banks in Waterloo, but quickly closed the tab deciding that I was going too far.
Thoughts that have been buzzing around me like flies came back. Do I want to get involved with a man who had a ‘weakness’ for red-heads? I mean, wasn’t he already taken? That beautiful dancer, Emily or whoever she was. Claire could be right. He might have been a serial kisser, and an adulterer from the past to boot. But there was something about him…
‘‘Well I suppose that’s for the best’’, said Claire. ‘‘Anyway how were the work outfits?’’
‘‘They were really good’’, I replied, letting Claire prattle on about fashion trends in the workplace while my mind slipped back to the kiss with Raife. She had never felt a kiss like that before, not in the whole year she had been with Duncan. The slight touch of his lips affected her whole body.
‘‘-and I think those felt bonnets are quite good for the season. You know when it drizzles but you don’t want to wear a beanie, plus they look more sophisticated’’, continued Claire.
‘‘Hm’’, I murmured.
‘‘Right. I’ve got to go. Tom wants to start dinner. Are you sure don’t want to come out tomorrow night?’’
‘‘No it’s fine Claire’’, I said, slightly relieved the conversation was ending. ‘‘I’ll be too tired for Monday. I’m still a bit iffy with the boss, you know?’’
‘‘Yeah, I know how you feel. You haven’t really broken in yet. Ok, well call me later?’’
‘‘See you!’’ I hang up, wondering what it would be like to make a meal with a doting fiancée. Duncan had always wanted to go out to posh restaurants and meet up with his finance work friends. I suppose I liked it at first, but the relationship became so tiring, trying to keep up with his lifestyle.
I take a sip of tea and turned on the T.V. Ten minutes in and the shows were already making me feel better.
On Monday morning I woke up late again. Is there some cosmological force-field that makes it automatic that Mondays have to be the worse? With a string of curses, I quickly showered and put on a combination of clothes that would scandalise Claire. I skipped breakfast and ran to the station trying to avoid dog faeces rather than puddles this time. It had been a dry weekend.
I resisted the temptation to look at my phone, knowing it would only make matters worse for my nerves and concentrated on the dark tunnel that is my transport.
When the noise of the train finally came, an odd sensation swept over me. I felt like the special train had to return today. And as I stepped into the carriage smelling wood and tobacco, I was right. I felt so giddy that I was almost light-headed. I looked around at all the long umbrellas and fur shawls forcing myself not to beam at everyone. This proves that I didn’t imagine it all. There was a special time-train. Maybe it only arrived on Mondays or when I was late? Of course, this could still be part of an exhibition or an event for the underground and I was going to be mortified beyond all measure at some point. But still, I haven’t seen any advertisements or posters about a one-off vintage train.
I looked around for a sign of Raife, resisting the urge to walk into every carriage calling for him. What did this man turn me into? Some starry-eyed buffoon.
After a few stops, I reluctantly sit down. It was only when we arrived at Warren Street, he came in.
‘‘Raife!’’ I couldn’t help calling out.
He spotted me and hurried forwards. He looked slightly more dishevelled than last week. His hair was messy and his suit wasn’t has smooth as before. I saw a few older ladies staring at him with disproval. I thought his ruffled appearance certainly didn’t take away any appeal. I was also pleased to see that he was still tall and broad-shouldered as I remembered. I swallowed when he came closer.
‘‘Miss. Plath’’, he replied, sounding out of breath. He sat beside me and I saw that he had faint grey lines under his eyes. ‘‘How are you?’’
‘‘I’m fine. What about you?’’ I reply, looking cautiously into his face. There seemed to be a white tinge to it.
‘‘Not too bad’’, he replied. There was an awkward pause. ‘‘I have not seen you since last Monday’’.
My heart, which had been beating pretty fast, sped up at these words.
‘‘No. I supposed we kept missing each other’’, I said, thinking it was better than saying: ‘‘I tried stalking you but wasn’t successful’’.
‘‘Look, about last week. I am terribly sorry for the way I acted. It was very uncouth of me’’, he said quickly looking strained.
‘‘No! You weren’t, I mean- it was a surprise but I- I kissed you back’’, I babbled senselessly. I felt my cheeks burning.
‘‘But I started it and that was inexcusable’’, he bowed his head looking sheepish. It was enough for me to stop reaching out and kissing him again.
The train was already at Tottenham Court Road. Two more stops and I’d have to leave, I thought dismally.
He looked up and smiled. ‘‘How was your first day at work?’’
‘‘It went very well thank you, how is your job?’’
‘‘I still hate it I’m afraid. Look, we’re nearly at your stop. What are you doing this Friday evening?’’
Was he asking me out on a date? I thought, trying not to look like a hopeful goon.
‘‘Nothing- I mean I don’t have any plans at the moment’’, I reply faintly.
‘‘I made a promise to a friend that I would go to his gallery opening. Do you like art?’’
‘‘Yes I do…’’
‘‘Would you like to accompany me? I will take you for a drink after if you would like’’.
‘‘Yes, I would’’, I reply, feeling something inside me about to burst.
‘‘Great! How about meeting me at 7 outside Warren Street station?’’
‘‘Yes I can do that’’, I feel myself nodding and wondering what I am getting myself into.
I look up and see the sign: Charing Cross Station. I gather my bag and stand up. Raife followed me to the door like last time. I turned around to say good-bye, but he took my hand and kissed it.
‘‘Until then’’, he said with a quiet and throaty voice.
‘‘See you’’, I said swallowing hard and stepping out of the carriage. The doors slid shut and the train disappeared into the tunnel with a current of hot air and dust.
If you have enjoyed this little read catch up with Savannah in two weeks. Check my tweets for updates! @CeliaMoontown
Perfect. There had to be a delay. On the mother of all days. If it wasn’t enough that my hair decided to have its own tantrum, I had to splash into a muddy puddle on my way to the tube station and I am already sweating- not a great sensation on one of the coldest days of the year. I feel like a roasted chicken in a freezer. And now, there was a delay on the line. It was 8.50 am and I had approximately ten minutes to get to my first day of work. The work that I had spent months hoping to get, days on the application form, nights fretting over the interviews; until finally getting that call that affirmed my belief that there is after all hope in the world.
I look around and see the familiar expressions associated with waiting on this platform. Annoyance shifts to anger, anger shifts to desperation. The crowd starts to grow and I get buffeted to the edge. I guess its going to be another ride in a sardine-tin this fine morning. People talk about urban chic; well I am going to be sporting tousled-sardine chic, with the scent of bad breath on my neck and an expression of utmost loathing to the human race.
8.52 am. God, why am I being tortured?
8.54 am. I can feel the heat radiating from everyone’s frustration. The underground smell is starting to make me dizzy. I just have to face it. I’m going to be late. Desperation shifts to glum acceptance. Suddenly, the rumbling noise of a train! Its here! Please let there be space. The train clangs to a stop and the doors slide open. Without noticing the way ahead I push my way in, keeping my head down and trying to make myself as small as possible. I hear the doors close behind me and I look up.
It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it was. I spot a seat and make a bee-line for it. At least something has gone right. I nearly bump into a young man who was heading for the same seat.
‘‘After you miss’’, he lifts his cap up and motions for me to sit. Well, this is new, I think, gaping at him while I sit down. I am usually reduced to passive-aggressive communication when battling for a seat.
‘‘Are you alright?’’ he asks looking concerned.
‘‘No- Yes I’m fine, thank you’’, I breathe back, looking away from his gaze and onto his clothes. He was very well dressed; in a tailored waist-coat with even a pocket-watch. In one hand, he carried a large pointed umbrella, while the other clutched a folded newspaper.
Now that I’ve looked around, everybody looks very formal. I see suits, dresses, fur and hats on everyone. I reach up and touch my own bushy head; my hair was starting to curl in odd places. Why did I decide to dye it yesterday? Autumn blush the packet said, not red squirrel! People stared back curiously. I reach into my bag for my phone to check the time. 8.57 am. No chance making the morning briefing. I wonder if anyone would believe me if I blamed the tube. I suppose I should have woken up earlier and given myself an hour’s head-start. But Duncan had to call at 11pm. And the foolish, naïve girl that I am, I answer. He was drunk, the conversation made absolutely no sense, and yes Claire, I think to my best friend, I am that girl. After I hung up on him, there was no chance of a peaceful sleep.
I chuck my phone back into my bag and look up again. We’ve reached Euston and the carriage empties. The man who had given me my seat is replaced by a man in a top-hat carrying a cane. Am I missing something? Now that I was able to see the inside of the train, the more I see how this layout is completely different to the usual Northern line. There are no individual seats. Everyone is on a communal bench like in a carriage. There is more wood than I have ever seen in the underground; on the panels, on the doors, and on the floor, I look down astonished. Is this a special tube? Am I in the middle of some 100th anniversary celebration, which would explain why everyone is dressed in vintage?
The man in the top-hat moves across and I see a couple lounging opposite me. I felt my stomach turning when I see the man. He had thick dark hair that was pushed back to reveal serious eyes and an angular jaw. He wore a large coat over a grey suit and black shoes that shone into my eyes. He had his arms crossed; one hand was holding a long umbrella. What is it with everyone here and umbrellas?
I look over at his companion, and felt my heart a sinking at how beautiful she was. Her blonde hair was neatly curled; a sleek wavy strand lined her cheek. She wore a round hat which had netting. But it didn’t hide large smoky eyes and bright red lips. She had on a loose green dress which showed off a large amount of her neck and chest, but in an elegant way. There was a fur shawl draped around her shoulders. Probably real, I think darkly.
I gazed at the man again, who suddenly caught my eye. I looked away, feeling my cheeks burning.
‘‘Raife, darling, I really don’t know how you’ve managed to drag me down here, when we could have taken a taxi’’, the woman spoke, she had a loud lazy voice that carried throughout the compartment.
Raife looked back at her with a tired expression. ‘‘Emily, dear, did you not just complain a few mornings ago that you have never got the chance to try the underground system? And were you not saying that you wanted a ticket to show at whats-her-name’s soiree?’’
‘‘Ursula’s soiree! Your right, but why does it have to be so horrid. I feel like a rat. Need it be so hot?’’ she cried, fanning herself with her hand dramatically.
‘‘Oh don’t go pulling out the smelling salts, you’d give us all a headache’’, groaned Raife.
I sneaked another glance at him and caught him looking back at me again. There was a slight grin on his face. I looked down on my lap hearing my heart starting to thump.
‘‘Look we’re here now, Warren Street. Would you like me to accompany you out?’’ he continued to Emily.
‘‘Oh thank the Egyptian gods!’’, she gathered up her shawl and gave dry laugh, ‘‘don’t go talking like a gentleman, I might mistake you for one. No you might run into Bertie. I’ll see you tonight’’.
She bent down to give him a sultry kiss on the cheek and slinked out through the sliding doors. Other people bustled out so I couldn’t see him for a few seconds. When they left, his seat was empty. I looked around to find him but he was gone. Until, I heard a low voice to my left.
‘‘I see your also caught up in this American fever’’. He had moved to sit next to me! After recovering from a mini heart-attack, I noticed that he was pointing to my bag where there was a copy of The Great Gatsby poking out. I had put it in there as a good luck charm. (Fat amount it brought me).
‘‘It’s my favourite book’’, I managed to say. He was very close. I saw that his eyes were amber. His shoulders looked very broad, even underneath his large coat.
‘‘Already? That’s fast!’’ he gave a low chuckle. I swallowed. I had no idea how to respond. What did he mean by American fever?
‘‘I can’t say that I like it too much. It seemed a bit too dramatic. I cannot vouch for the Americans but us ‘lost generation’ aren’t that insane are we? Apart from Emily as you saw, but she’s a dancer’’, he continued.
My brain was trying to keep up with what he was saying but it kept sliding down to the pinkness of his lips and the smell of mint he was giving off. Something registered. The woman was a dancer! It figures…
‘‘Right’’, I say. Right?! I am sitting next to the most soul-sucking gorgeous man I have ever seen, and I turn mute. Brilliant.
‘‘Oh I do apologise. I am Raife Marlow’’, he said holding out his hand.
‘‘Savannah Plath’’, I reply reaching out to shake it, but he turned it over and kissed the back of my hand. A part of me melted as I felt his lips brush against my skin.
‘‘Savan-nah’’, he said quietly, still holding my hand, ‘‘that’s an unusual name’’.
‘‘My parents are American’’, I reply, feeling breathless. ”We moved here when I was five”.
‘‘And there was me giving them a bash! Do forgive me!’’ he said, placing my hand gently back on my lap.
‘‘Of course’’, I say. There was an awkward pause. Think of something interesting, something to do with current affairs. I scan my brain frantically. The tube reached another stop, Goodge Street.
‘‘Are you in entertainment?’’ he asked looking down at me. I start to heat up, feeling thoroughly exposed.
‘‘Sorry I just assumed by your costume’’, he said looking confused.
‘‘My costume?’’ I ask, looking down at my clothes. I had on a plain white shirt with a Peter-Pan collar and a black pencil skirt on. I had picked this outfit during the weekend with Claire. I thought it was perfect, until I started sweating in it. I can feel the shirt clinging onto my chest. The collar was starting to choke me.
‘‘Yes. You look exactly like the girls at the Diamond Dust, fantastic show’’.
What was he on about? The train slowed down again, Tottenham Court Road.
‘‘Have I upset you?’’ he asked looking down at me with a concerned expression.
‘‘No! No. I’m just- It’s my first day at work today, and I’m late so I feel quite nervous’’, I reply, cringing. I probably look like a gormless idiot.
‘‘Oh! Best of luck, dear, where are you getting off?’’
Dear! He called me dear! In what universe do young men still call women dear?
‘‘Erm, Charing Cross’’, I say whilst my heart started to burst into song.
‘‘Ah, I’m at Waterloo’’.
Why does he have to continue staring at me? He was making my hair practically frizzle with tension. Don’t even think about it, Savannah. Did you not notice the absolutely breath-taking woman he was just with?
The train continued, stopping at Leicester Square.
‘‘And where do you work, Raife?’’ I ask, marvelling at my ability to construct a sentence, and savouring how his name sounded against my tongue.
‘‘At a bank, it’s pretty dull’’.
‘‘It would be good to do something more relaxing, have more holidays you know?’’
‘‘Yeah…’’. Talk, damn it Savannah, talk! The train started to slow down. Charing Cross!
‘‘I have to go now’’, I say gathering my coat and bag, and standing up. Raife stood up as well. He’s accompanying me out? I think bewildered as he walked with me to the doors.
‘‘Well it was lovely meeting you Savannah, I’m sure I will see you again I take this train every morning’’, he reached out to take my hand. I eagerly lifted my hand, but at that moment the train shook and I collided into him.
‘‘Woah! Steady’’, he said, putting both his arms on my shoulders to straighten me up. I dropped my hands which had instinctively splayed across his chest and tried not to think about how that had felt. I look up. His face was very close. I could see his eye-lashes and his stubble. His amber eyes bore into me for a few seconds and then he swooped down and kissed me.
My brain suddenly went flat-line. All I can hear was my heart pounding against my ears. The doors beside me opened with a creak and I remembered where I was. I broke away, looking at him stunned. He also looked surprised at himself.
‘‘I’m sorry’’, he said, his voice sounded strained and he was breathing a little heavily, ‘‘I have a weakness for redheads’’.
I couldn’t speak. People started filing past me, I realised I was blocking a large part of the exit. I took one final glance at him and stepped out. I was pushed along the platform, so I couldn’t see him anymore. The doors closed and the train left. I watch it disappear into the tunnel. I moved away from the crowd, my mind spinning like blender. What had just happened?! I am Savannah Plath. I take old school books to work as a lucky charm, for goodness sake. I do not kiss strangers on the tube! Strangers on a train… I give out a mad laugh. I am officially a cliché. Teenage girls walking past give me a weird look. Well as they should! My life has taken a turn down funny lane.
Trying to keep my breath steady, I reach into my phone to check how late I was. I saw something unfamiliar and pulled it out. It was cigarette packet labelled ‘Craven ‘A’’. There was picture of a black cat on the front. It must his… It must have fallen into my bag when we collided. I look at my phone. Then looked at it again. It said 8.30 am. That couldn’t be right. I squinted up to at the platform clock. It said 08.29. That was impossible, my phone on the train said 8.57!
I look around. The people around me were dressed in the usual London fashion; simple business suits, skinny jeans and large head-phones. No mesh hats or slinky dresses. I look again at the cigarette packet. I don’t think I have ever seen one with a cat on it. I turn it over and see the date 1860. My mind starts to spin again. I shake my head. Did I just-? No… Or did I just hallucinate from the stress of today? The kiss had felt very real…
No it couldn’t be. That was absolutely insane of me to think it. A lot of companies have been founded for centuries. Many people collect old brands. Vintage is very popular. But that didn’t explain how the time on my phone went back.
Or did it go back for more than half an hour…?
If you have enjoyed this little read catch up with Savannah in two weeks. Check my tweets for updates! @CeliaMoontown