Monday, September 12, 2005

Hands on the Tube

Friday was the third time that I've been on the Tube since the 7/7 bombs. Two weeks ago, I took the tube on two consecutive days just before the peak evening rush. I'd read that passengers were down by a third but the carriages seemed less than half full. This time I caught the tube just after the peak morning rush; again, passenger numbers were down on those of a few months ago - I got a seat with ease - but they definitely seemed to be on the increase again.

I'd timed my departure to get myself to Paddington in ample time to catch the train to Bridgwater. The train from Finsbury Park to Kings Cross went as usual but the train from Kings Cross stayed put for ages before it started limping its way towards Paddington - a train had stalled at Baker Street. It picked up speed after it was announced that the other train had got on its way but then slowed down to another limp - the Central line had been closed in both directions due to a security alert. In the end, I managed to catch my Bridgwater train with just two minutes to spare.

Trying not to be anxious about missing my train, I attempted to concentrate on my paper. As I looked down, my mind not really taking in what I was reading, I became aware of the wrist and hand of the guy seated next to me. He was holding his paper.

Just a hint of an almost hairless, dark-skinned arm showed from under his cuff. It wasn't a thick wrist but it obviously widened, under his shirt, into a taut, muscular forearm. A prominent vein skirted over the bone; another went down the middle, curving across his strong hand. Smaller veins could be seen on each finger, just beyond the knuckles. I was pleased that his gaze was directed at his paper, away from me, as I couldn't take my eyes off his wrist and hand.

It was beautiful!

Every now and again, I'd glance surreptitiously at his head which, turned away from me as it was, didn't reveal much more than a bit of profile and the back of his head. He seemed very ordinary-looking but that didn't detract from the beauty of his hand and wrist.

Just before he got off at Great Portland Street station, he uncurled his fingers for the first time. Slender, strong fingers, beautiful fingers. At the same time as I got to see his uncurled fingers for the first time, I saw his nails. They were bitten. Almost to the quick.

I carried on looking at him as he left his seat and walked towards the door. You could tell that, under his clothes, he was beautifully shaped and toned. But, all I could think of was how ugly his nails were.

I was still thinking about his nails when I got off at Paddington and rushed to catch my train.

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