The trees made green streaks past his window and the sky was streaked with gray. The train swayed away from the station, trundling towards London. Nathan watched the landscape blur from the last row of the carriage. He’d had the row to himself since he left Leeds. This suited him well as he could spread out his full 6’2” frame without pressing his knees against the seat in front of
him or try to tuck his feet back under his own seat. His shoulder bag was down near his feet and hand was on it, getting ready to put it on the seat next to him when he caught a hint of vanilla on the air and a voice said “Do you mind if I sit here?”
Looking up, he immediately checked himself. Trying hard not to stare, he shifted unnecessarily, making no more space at all, but putting on quite a show of rearranging himself and his things. She was stunning. In her early to mid thirties, she had on a clinging, but office-appropriate burgundy dress, dark stockings, black high heels, and trendy cat-eye glasses still dotted with rain water. Her hair was a dirty blonde pulled up in a messy bun. Raindrops were still clinging to some of the strands that had come loose from the bun and had fallen around the sides of her face. He wanted desperately to look closer. He didn’t.
“Sure, no problem!”
“Ohh, you’re American?”
“More or less,” he said. Thinking as soon as he said it “what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“What is that supposed to mean?” She asked, giggling.
“Honestly, I have no fucking idea,” he said starting to laugh at his own awkwardness.
She was smiling broadly at him, wide eyed, very confused but also amused.
He was still laughing when he said, “You ever been sitting alone for a few hours just wallowing in your own thoughts and daydreaming and then suddenly someone asks you a question and you have about two neurons left firing in the right direction? That’s me right now. Yes, I’m American. There isn’t really any “less” to it. My name is Nathan”
She giggled and offered her own hand “I’m Samantha, and I have to say this is already the most I’ve ever spoken to a stranger on a train.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m proud to have earned the gold medal in the Chattiest Amateur Train Companion event.”
“Well, I’ve never been paid.”
She popped thrust her hand down into her handbag and pulled out a 50 pence piece, pressing it into his palm. Her hands were small and delicate next to his.
“Now you’re a professional. You’ve been properly paid.”
“I’ve only been here a couple of days and I have no idea how much you’ve just given me. I’m going to assume it’s worth like $50 dollars.”
This got a real laugh from her. Burgundy red lipsticked lips nearly the same shade as her dress pulling back over her white teeth as she tilted her head back.
“It might be with the current exchange rate. What brings you to England Mr. Nathan.”
“Just Nathan, please! Mr. Nathan is my penis.” He took a chance. Pressing his luck and grinning like an idiot
Her eyes widened and her mouth was slack, slightly open, and for a moment he thought he’d gone to far. Then she erupted with a bark of laughter so loud the two grannies across the aisle looked up in irritation. Nathan broke into laughter as well as Samantha’s hand shot out and she gripped his forearm as she continued to roar. Eventually, her laughter subsided into cute snorts, causing her to raise a hand to her face to cover her nose and mouth.
“Wow, that was unexpected. Have you really named your penis your own name?”
Nathan turned serious. “No, of course not, his name is Brad.”
This earned him another bout of laughter and another arm squeeze. This time, she bent over a bit as she laughed and Nathan saw that the front of her dress had opened, exposing a long line of cleavage. He looked away quickly. That image still frozen in his mind. His own laughter becoming a bit forced.
When she’d calmed again and released his arm, she asked “Honestly Nathan, what brings you…and Brad to England?”
“Well, Brad has no say in the matter, but I’m here on a holiday as you’d call it here.”
“You’re on a holiday alone?”
“You mean besides Brad?”
A single loud laugh, “Yes, though I’m sure he’s a lovely travel companion, I mean besides Brad.”
“Yes, I’m here alone. I always wanted to come and I’d been planning to come to with my girlfriend for a year, but…as she’s no longer my girlfriend, I decided to come alone.”
“Ohh god, I pried. I’m always prying!” She looked genuinely mortified, her face scrunched up and color creeping into her cheeks. Then her eyes widened and with an awed tone as if she’d just had a revelation she said. “It was because of Brad wasn’t it?” Breaking immediately into more laughter. Nathan stared, his turn to be shocked, then broke into laughter as well. As they both started to calm, the train took a curve and her thigh slid over onto the outside of his. Neither of them moved away.
“They seemed to get along fine” he finally got out.
“Ohh, I’m sure Brad is a lovely bloke.” she said and he caught her eyes and held her gaze before she glanced away. “And what do you think of of our country so far?”
“It’s really really wonderful” he said. “I’ve fallen in love with pubs and pies and love looking at all kinds of old shit. And the train companions are extremely pretty and charming.” He said with a grin and a small wink.
She returned the grin. “Ohh you’re quite charming,” she said, “and you may be pretty. Though it’s a bit difficult to tell with your beard.”
“Don’t you like it? It’s my traveling beard.”
“I do actually, it suits you.” Her tone sincere, she gave him a small smile.
“Thank you.” his voice was warm as he returned her gaze and sincerity.
“What about you? What brings you to this train?” He asked, tearing his eyes away and looking back up to her face.
“Do you want the real version or the romantic version?” She asked, reaching down to pull off a heel and to massage the back of her ankle. Nathan glanced down at the movement and found himself staring at her cleavage again, the top of her dress falling open as she bent down. He tried to look away quickly, but when he looked up she was watching his face. He reddened. Embarrassed at having been caught and aware of how his pants had started to bulge a bit at the look she was giving him.
He cleared his throat. “The romantic version, naturally.”