London Sketches 11 — The Dating Grandmother

She feels like a naughty schoolgirl. Not only is she missing the midweek church meeting, but she’s doing it to meet a man. As a grandmother she should be beyond such childish giggling, she scolds herself. But then the excitement gets the better of her and she feels a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

She reaches into her handbag for her mirror, to check her hair for at least the tenth time since she first boarded the train. She notices that her hands are shaking a little and decides that another layer of lipstick would be unwise. Not only unnecessary, but she also doubts that she could even hold the stick steady, especially not now the butterflies have started up in her stomach too.

The smile is getting wider and she wants to sing, to share her joy with the rest of the carriage. Instead she graces them all with a broad, beaming smile. She is met with a wall of indifference, the pale London faces register little interest, most instead quickly averting their eyes in case she really does start talking to them. She roots once more in her bag, fighting to regain composure and prevent another socially unacceptable outbreak of joy.

She flicks her phone open and re-checks the text, mentally confirming the place and time. She already knows the when, the where and even the who she is looking for, but the process has become an unconscious habit over the past two days. The details the same, the photo the same, nothing has changed except for the feeling in her stomach. What started as a single flutter now feels like four and twenty blackbirds tickling the inside of her ribs.

She smiles expansively at her fellow passengers once more, Underground etiquette be damned.

Central Line — 23rd March 2015