Part One: Two Strangers
It is hot in the city. But underground it’s a furnace. My tights are sticking to my legs as I clamber onto the tube with all the other sweating commuters. Hanging from the rail above my head, my underarms are not as fragrant as they were when I left the office. There is nothing I can do about it now.
The doors slide open to let another bunch of wilting workers onto the train. I squeeze myself further back into the vehicle. I am someone who likes her personal space, so the tall, muscular man that pushes himself right up against my body has well and truly invaded. I try to scowl at him but end up staring pleadingly into his dark, inscrutable eyes. His look says ‘I will stand where I damn well want’. I cast my eyes down and keep them facing my shoes for the rest of the journey.
When we finally reach my stop I fight through the crowd onto the platform and and over to the escalator that will lead me back out into the humid evening. I do not turn back to look, but I sense someone behind me, so close I can feel his body lightly brushing against my back. I hold my breath. At the station entrance I hesitate, suddenly unsure which way to go even though I have made this journey a thousand times before. ‘Hello’ says a voice, deep and self-assured. It is him. What happens next is inexplicable, and completely out of character for me. My whole body is screaming at me to run, to ignore this stranger and get myself to the safety of my home. Maybe it is the heat, but I ignore my instincts. I smile weakly at the man, who has now placed his hand on my arm and is squeezing it firmly. ‘Hello’. I am now disoriented and don’t know where I want to go. Sensing my indecision, he says ‘follow me’ assertively, and starts to march down the street in the opposite direction to where I live. I do not disobey.
At the entrance to a pub he stops abruptly and so do I. Looking me dead in the eye he tells me, ‘You are free to go. It is your choice. You do know that don’t you?’ I nod, in some kind of daze. Before I know it I am sat next to him in a dark corner, sipping a glass of white wine, my fingers shaking slightly as I try to look composed. He on the other hand is as relaxed as if we had known each other for years. He wears a shirt but no tie, and the top button is undone to reveal the top of a hairy chest. I don’t even know his name.
Suddenly I feel his hand between my knees, pushing them apart. Not roughly, but not gently either. He leans in and whispers in my ear. ‘I want you. Now.’ The words make me panic. I look around me, feeling slightly nauseous. I am in a public bar. I could get up to leave. I could alert a member of staff. I could scream. But I do none of these things. I am not in danger and yet I am terrified. I am terrified of what he might do to me. I am terrified of what I might let him do to me. I take a gulp of wine and feel his hand move up from my knees along the inside of my thighs. Oh God. I blush red crimson. I wriggle to avoid his fingers reaching in to find me. When I dare to look at him he is grinning broadly. ‘Good girl’ he says. ‘You’re a good girl.’ Then he grabs my hand, pulls me from the seat and drags me out of the pub into the hot, humid night.
To be continued…