fragile

by uzwi

11am St Pancras/Sheffield. The man sleeping across the aisle from me has taken off his black leather shoes & put his feet on the seat opposite. The Telegraph has fallen off the table at his side. Bedford station wakes him up & he opens his briefcase and begins to eat from a packet of crisps or something like it, putting his hand into the case each time he wants some more. While he is eating, his hand flops down to the seat at his side. He is quite a young man, with lively eyes, but this way of eating has a curiously furtive effect, as if he is reluctant to admit that he is eating at all. He drinks more openly, from a carton of pineapple juice, sucking at it energetically. The flat Bedfordshire landscape races past his shoulder, green with summer, wired for electricity. He puts the Telegraph aside for a book. His toes twitch. The guard announces, “Ladies & gentlemen, Kettering station.” We are in HE Bates country. A white butterfly bobs up and down between the platforms, fluttering towards London along the down-line, fragile but compelled.