The last of the lost stories....
We probably would never see each other if we didn't catch the same train every morning. Claire had soon shown through her uncanny acumen that she was much more profitable than me and had secured two promotions that I'd missed as well as a much nicer office. She looked the part too, with her sharp business trouser suits, conservative ponytail blonde hair and no-nonsense manner.
Every morning we'd sit at a seat with a table, facing the way we were going, and chat or read the paper or just sit. We always had each other to talk to, and didn't really mix with the other passengers. There was one chap I knew from a chess club I had attended once or twice a year or so ago, but we never said more than hello. Other than that, we knew
no-one. For this reason, we would make up names for our fellow commuters.
There was "Aryan Boy", who always wore a very smart suit but looked as though he should have been in a promotional video for the master race. "The Executive Shepherd", or "Ex-Shep" also always wore a suit, and every day except Friday took his border collie with him to work. What was that all about?
We always tried to avoid "Warlock", who was a slab of a man, about twenty years old, with a booming voice and flaming hair. At first we'd called him "Firetop Mountain". He talked with great authority about stupid things and no-one else could concentrate on anything else while he spoke.
Most important was "Glamour Girlfriend", or "GG". Just a month previously, an earlier train had been cancelled, or moved, or something, and a few new faces had joined our morning vigil on the spartan rural platform. "Glamour Girlfriend" had at first been "Glamour Girl", but Claire teased me so much about the way I looked at her, and about how I wished she was my girlfriend, that her name had changed.
But was she worth looking at! She had an aristocratic, otherworldly look, like a Russian Princess, or a femme fatale from darkly arty French film. Dark shimmering chestnut hair, always sleek, as though the morning sun slipped off it, and blue eyes the colour of the sky on a deep winter's day. Not just pale blue, but pale and peaceful blue, and still, and quiet, and oddly compelling.
And that was before she's started sitting opposite us in our carriage. Not directly opposite our table, but just on the other side, facing the opposite way to the way the train travelled. This meant that every morning I started the day by watching her glide into her seat, black nyloned knees together, and cross her legs to reveal a heart-stopping perfect thigh framed by the hem of her skirt and the hanging high heel, under a topping of tempting but not quite visible cleavage.
Then the show would start. While GG stood on the platform shining with natural beauty, her cheeks red like sun-blushed pippin apples in the autumn, once on the train she would take out her make-up bag. She only used three things: lipstick, mascara and eye shadow, but she applied them with such care and elegance that I could hardly bear to watch. For a month now I had been arriving at work aroused.
The eye shadow would come first, a variety of shades depending on her outfit for the day. Smudged and smoky, dusky, or blue and airy to match her eyes. To gaze into those eyes all day and agree to anything she said!
Then the mascara. Her eyelashes would blossom under the spell of her wand, from thick and fluttery to black and striking. To feel them brush against my cheek!
And finally her lipstick. On some days I had to look away. She would take it slowly out from the small bag, and extend it. Deep and red, she would hold the mirror still, and slowly, slowly, draw the lipstick across her already pink lips. Again and again, left and right, top lip and bottom, glossier and glossier, back and forth, warm red lipstick...To kiss those lips!
Two or three times in the last week I had found myself staring longingly at her as she did this, surprised to have arrived at the station.
I think I must have been the only man in the morning eager to get to the platform and to board the train for work. I was in heaven.
Claire and I hadn't been talking much. We hadn't argued or anything, but we just seemed to be doing more sitting quietly than chatting. My mornings were busy anyway, watching my Glamour Girlfriend whilst trying to appear as though I was actually looking out of the window or gazing down the carriage.
Claire was gazing too, and I presumed she was tired, or thinking about her paper. That's how you get promotions, after all, by working hard and keeping up with breaking news, and not by spending your days dreaming of creamy red lipstick and long legs in high heels...
This Thursday morning was the same. I had knocked on her door and she had been waiting for me. We had stood not talking, waiting for the train, our breath drifting away from us in clouds, when then she came and stood before and to the left of us.
I felt my breath catch in my throat, the cold air burning. She was wearing her usual thin black nylons, and had walked very assuredly in her very high heels despite the frost and treacherous nature of the cobbled ground. With her back to us, I watched her hair playing in the breeze until the train arrived.
That was when the day changed. "Headphones Babe" was onto the train before us, and sitting the space normally occupied by GG. She sprawled herself back, turned up the volume and closed her eyes. We knew that was her done for the duration. She wouldn't twitch until we arrived.
My heart sank. No lipstick to watch! No legs to sigh over!
And then she sat down at our table. Directly opposite Claire.
I didn't know where to look. I could feel my cheeks blush hot and I stared fixedly out of the window. I heard the shush of her legs as she crossed them and felt a stirring in my groin. Claire shifted uncomfortably in her seat and I could tell that she didn't know where to look either.
The train moved off, and out came her bag. I could see what she was doing in her reflection in the window, and my trousers were getting tight. Blue eye shadow today, carefully applied onto her half-closed eyelids. Slow sweeps of the mascara. Don't look, I told myself. You'd probably drool and get yourself arrested.
Then the lipstick. Today I could not only see the deep warm red colour of it, but could discern a particular perfume as well. I watched in the window as she raised it to her pouting lips. To kiss those lips! To feel such creamy softness on my own lips, such perfume!
I couldn't help it. My head slowly turned almost against my will. I could see through my peripheral vision the slow repeated movement of the lipstick, back and forth on her full bottom lip. I could smell the scent of it, rising, rising, in my chest and my groin. It was red, it smelt good. It looked so rich, so smooth, so luscious. To kiss those lips! To feel such softness on my own lips! To feel her lipstick on my lips! Soft smooth lipstick on my lips!
We were at the station. I blinked. Had I been staring at her all the way, at her lips? Had she not noticed? She was zipping up her bag, standing up very quickly, flicking her hair, leaving.
I glanced at Claire, expecting her to laugh at me and to say that she was going to tell all our remaining mutual friends at the office. But Claire was staring too. She looked glazed, half-smiling, breathing lightly. She spoke softly as her eyes slowly focused on the table, directly on...
Claire snapped back.
"I'll have to take it," she declared to me, "and give it back tomorrow. I couldn't bear to be without my lipstick after all."
I looked after her as she bundled it into her bag and alighted. Claire hardly ever wore lipstick.
TO BE CONTINUED
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