I watched her jiggle from foot to foot as her hands elaborately told her story. Every now and then she would reach onto her tiptoes and plant a quick kiss on his face. His hands, large and sun kissed, never left her waist as he gazed into her eyes, smiling slightly at her as she threw her had back with laughter. The small, pink suitcase beside him had begun to roll closer to the platform doors, but instead of breaking their connection and tugging it back he simply side-stepped closer to the case each time, guiding her gently with his hands. She didn’t seem to notice. I stopped a meter or so behind her, letting my rucksack slip from my shoulder so I could place it securely between my feet and rub my stiff neck. Her thick accent and shield of dark hair blocked most of her words, but as she finished her story I watched her slide her hands around his neck and cock her head to the side. Whatever she said must have tickled him, because his face broke into a large grin before softening as his bright eyes poured over her face once more.
‘So did you kiss him?’ he asked.
‘Yep,’ she nodded enthusiastically, then leant into his body and rested her face against his neck. What? There I was, thinking I was witnessing a romantic display of affection from a couple that had missed each other, but perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps they were one of those newfangled ‘open relationship’ supporters? He buried his face into her hair and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath of her scent and stroking the small of her back. His eyes opened and he watched the floor over her shoulder.
‘Did you do it out of spite?’
‘Yes, I think I did,’ she replied matter-of-factly, nodding against his skin.
The air around us began to rumble as a warm gust of wind whipped my fringe from my face, snapping me out of my curious trance. The tube flew into the station and settled with a sigh before the doors slid open and the couple dawdled inside, oblivious to the queue of commuters they were blocking, their arms still wrapped around each other’s torsos. I settled five seats away from them and watched their reflections in the window opposite as they leaned into each other to share a lingering kiss. The growling of the tube soon drowned out all audible conversation so I continued to read the man’s facial expressions. Not once did he tear his gaze from hers. Another kiss. She held fast onto his knee and continued to talk, pausing every now and then to bring a hand to his face or stroke behind his ear. Kiss number three. He shook his head slowly as she continued. Was she apologising? Explaining? Number four. She didn’t look like she was. His face was soft and his eyes adoring, but the shine in them dulled ever so slightly whenever his smile slipped. He held the nape of her neck with his left hand and let his thumb trace up and down her skin as he listened intently. She flashed her white teeth at him in a large grin as she gabbled her penultimate sentence. Five. He tugged her close. Six. The women opposite began to share inquisitive glances; either they could hear the exchange clearer than I could, or they were dismayed by the publication of the couple’s affection. Seven. Eight. She held her phone to his face and flicked through some pictures with her thumb. He feigned interest, yet his smile didn’t reach his eyes.