I like meeting you in the crush of the underground. Everything is fair game then, passed off as an accident as the carriage sways round a corner or slams to a halt at a station. Mostly you don’t even notice when I touch you, slipping my hand across your buttocks or nudging your thigh. I dared a grasp of your breast once, maybe you recall that one. It became just a glance of the hand, a slight mis-estimation reaching for a hanging strap was how it looked to you, but it has sustained me through the many nights that I spend without you.
Do you remember where we first met? Perhaps you don’t realize that we have even met at all. It was at the conference in the hotel outside Nottingham. You presented a paper on engaging hard-to-reach clients for maximum profit. You engaged me fully that day and I recall every word of your presentation probably better than you do yourself. And I’d only attended because my boss couldn’t make it at the last minute and I wanted a day away from the office. I didn’t even plan on making a career in this industry.
The next day I began learning all I could about you and moving to London to be close to you was a pleasure. I wanted so much to work for Carter Matherson to be close to you every day, but I decided it might be too soon for that. So I applied to Gershways and settled for monitoring your progress from CM’s main competitor. I dreamed I would rise to the top, as you inevitably would, and you would notice me for my brilliance. You would be the one to make contact with me. We would unite the companies as GCM and live happily ever after.
Until then I’m satisfying myself with being in your life on the fringes. I have the flat in the block opposite you. I’m two floors above but still have an excellent view especially when you are near the window in the bedroom. Twice I’ve been able to watch you take out a black bag to the refuse area and see exactly where you place it on the pile. I took each one back to my own flat and I kept every single thing in them. Everything. I have the letters safe in a file. The food waste I froze and bought a new freezer to keep it in. As the tissues become too ragged and begin to disintegrate, I seal each one in a clear plastic food bag and store them in the wardrobe.
I wonder if you ever see me as we head off for the station together but not every morning. Part of me hopes you think I’m just another commuter. Most of me wants you to recognize me and strike up a conversation. I have many witty remarks prepared for such an occurrence. One day I might mention the weather to you, if the day is indeed nice, but not just yet.
Today is my birthday. I think I’ll treat myself to another hanging strap.