Short stories

Snapshot #1

Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters

3:34pm Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters. This tube line comes from the Airport. A heavy lady is sleeping while holding her luggage and her coat. Probably back from a trip. She is in her sixties and she is not tan. She wouldn’t take her coat to a warm country and the luggage is not that big. Perhaps she travelled in the UK. Another woman instead is eating a sandwich. I would love a pizza at Franco’s! Number 4, margherita base, ham, ricotta and mushrooms. Oh boy, am I hungry! A teenager seated in front of me is texting something on his phone. The middle age woman next to him, looks really tired. She can barely keep her eyes opened. The boy and this woman are Asian; they are sitting quite comfortably closed to each other. Most likely related. Can she be his mom? Both with freckles, rather unusual. Maybe she came to visit her son and she is tired because of the jet-lag. They are also wearing running shoes, really colourful shoes. His are yellow, white and black while hers are grey, pink, yellow and white. Ugly shoes but good for walking. They are getting off at Tottenham Court Road. British Museum? A young Asian girl is checking her phone and the one next to her is staring into space. I stare into space too. A lot actually! My family makes fun of me for this. They try to understand what I’m staring at by following the direction of my fixed look. The girl with the steady gaze is now checking her phone. A guy is standing in front of her. They look Western. They exchanged some words. Definitely Italians. There are always so many Italians in London! These two are not tourists, she has a bag from UCL. They are approaching the exit, Russell Square. Must be going to University. Now nobody is standing and three seats are empty. An elderly woman comes and sits, dressed in a blue navy jacket, white shirt with green flowers matching a long heavy green skirt. Grey shoes, a big plastic yellow bag with a wild animals print. She is wearing glasses and keeps checking the tube stops. She mumbles something to herself. Maybe remembering the route? I wonder where she is going. She doesn’t have a walking stick even though she looks about 80. None of my grandparents could walk without some kind of aid when they were in their 80s. Good for her! Old but young inside! Another girl with her legs crossed, denim leggings, black t-shirt, long straight brown hair looks quite nervous. She is holding an electronic cigarette in one hand and her phone in the other. Her arms are crossed too. She keeps shaking her foot. Probably a nervous reaction of someone who is trying to stop smoking. She looks at her phone quickly, checking the time. She is late or maybe she doesn’t like the tube and she just can’t wait to get off. These trains are quite claustrophobic. Out at Kings Cross.

Snapshot #2

Bus 19 to Finsbury Park

5.06pm Bus 19 to Finsbury Park. The woman in front of me is eating an orange but I cannot see her face. There is a girl getting off the bus that has purple hair and a denim baggy jacket. She looks like the kind of girl that could go to an Art school. The 19 starts where the Royal College of Art is. An Asian woman comes in with a little boy, probably her son. The child is about 9 with big front teeth, he keeps his mouth open. He also wears glasses. Now there are two women maybe from South Arabia facing me. One has a cold, she is holding a tissue and keeps sniffing. She might be suffering from hay fever. I usually suffer from hay fever. It’s so annoying! The other one has a wide mouth with full lips that reminds me of Julia Roberts. She is wearing a pair of golden sneakers and since she jumped on the bus, she never took her eyes off her phone. She must be reading something really interesting. The lady burst out laughing. ‘Only for the big day’ she says to her friend along with a series of Arabic words that I couldn’t understand. Maybe they are talking about a wedding. My attention is caught by an Italian looking man nicely dressed that is standing on the pavement with his French bulldog waiting for the traffic light to turn green. They are both grey: grey suit, grey hair, grey fur. Few stops further I see a homeless sitting on a bench is talking to himself. I wonder what he is talking about. Sometimes homeless people have great stories to tell. He has a big scarf wrapped around his head and he is leaning on a plastic bag, he has many bags. There is so much traffic, it took us 40 minutes only to get to Knightsbridge and it’s also boiling hot in here! In Knightsbridge there are so many people from the Middle East. Most of them come from South Arabia since it is one of the richest countries of the world. They stroll up and down Sloane Street and Brompton Road full of shopping bags of the most expensive brands. I also see a biker riding an Harley Davidson all dressed in black leather and with his beard and hair tied up in a plait. What a contrast! London is such a diverse city! A man just wished me a nice day before getting off the bus and waved to me. The old man at the bus stop is trying really hard to pull up the zip of his jacket, he is also wearing a woolly jumper. It’s the end of May and even if summer in England is an optional, there are 21 °C today in London. It’s true though that elderly people tend to have a lower body temperature. Off in Bloomsbury Square.