Y’all wanna hear a story?
I’m 18 and waiting to get my weekly coach to Birmingham. In front of me is an older woman struggling with her purse who is simultaneously holding onto a young girl with learning difficulties, possibly some form of unspecified MLD. At one point, her grasp slips. The girl grasps me and hugs me tight around the waist. Instinctively, and without flinching, I hug back.
The older lady is incredibly grateful (and I’m not sure why… what did she expect me to do?). I say it’s no problem, I’m happy to help. I take a seat behind her on the coach.
A very pretty girl sits next to me and gives me a small, warm smile. I smile back. On the way to Birmingham, we hit some very heavy traffic and stop at a service station just outside Oxford. I hate Oxford.
I’m 23 and waiting to get my weekly(ish) coach to Oxford. I’ve been back and forth between Waterloo and Victoria several times before realising that there’s a 24-hour coach service from Victoria Coach Station. I pay the driver and sit down. It is very quiet and very dark.
The only other passenger, a few rows of empty seats away, is a very pretty girl who my brain tells me I have seen somewhere before. It’s very late, so I decide that I’m tired. I put my iPod in and zone out for the duration of the journey.
It’s after midnight when we pull in. I’ve decided by this point that I don’t need to get a bus, or a taxi. I feel safe in Oxford at night. Walking the streets alone, in a calm bubble. I love Oxford.
I’m 27 and have just sat down on a late(ish) train to London. It will take hours to get there from Yorkshire, but I have both my iPod and a book. I also have my BlackBerry, so I can check Twitter if I want to.
On the seat next to me is a very pretty girl who’s struggling with her purse while simultaneously holding onto a cup of tea. I offer to hold her tea, but by that point she’s okay. She pulls out a pack of Hermesetas and drops two into her tea, which the then stirs and takes a sip.
“Hey!” I say, surprising myself that I’m talking to a stranger. “That’s the sort of sweetener I use!” This was, in fact, true. I still use them, in fact.
“Oh, yes, yes,” she says. “Big fan.”
She gives me a small, warm smile. I smile back.
It’s after midnight when we pull in. I’ve decided by this point that I don’t want to get the Tube all the way back to the station I live near and walk home. I grab a night bus that takes me all the way. I love and hate London in the same breath.
I’m 36 and have been browsing Twitter. I am about to close the browser tab and think about turning in for the night. Just before I click, I notice an RT from someone I don’t know. There’s a picture of a very pretty girl with long, blonde hair.
But I’ve seen her before. I’ve met her, even. Where?
And then a thunderclap sounds in the back of my mind. A lightbulb goes on above my head, and I start to write. I love writing.