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Made in London

Contributing Authors: jimmasters 

She could feel him watching her but every time her eyes flicked to catch his, he’d be looking down at the tattered day-worn Metro in his hand. Even from ten metres away, the paper looked scuffed and dirty, and it’d been folded in half since the man had first picked it up.

They’d both boarded the train at Liverpool Street with the late-commute crowd. 18:27. Two strangers in a crowd of dozens more. A wet night. The air outside had been fresh and damp, an earlier thunderstorm having faded into a typical London drizzle.

Winter. Glowing yellow-white streetlights. Car headlights and pattering rain. Smoke misting from exhausts. The kind of scene that’d look cosy in pictures or on Christmas cards. But it didn’t feel cosy when you were running along the dirty streets, car horns in your ears and rain chasing you down the stairs into the hollow commotion of the underground station.

Ella sighed, still content to have caught the train, and leaned against the metal pole beside her. She tucked a loose strand of damp hair behind her ear and glanced at the man again. Still reading the Metro, apparently. The train had already made four stops, handfuls of commuters trudging from the carriage off into the night. And this man apparently hadn’t read more than half the sports page.

Ella wondered. She shrugged in her head and turned her attention back to her phone. And two seconds later he was looking at her again. She knew it without even checking. She felt it like a person feels the weather. Not a sixth sense. More tangible than that. More obvious. Like the first elusive notes on a radio betraying the warmth of an entire song. Something. Ella frowned at her phone, resisting the urge to try and catch him in the act again. He’d be too quick and then maybe he’d assume she might be interested.

Distractedly, she blinked at the screen of her phone. Small bold news headlines glared at her accusingly. Wars. Bombs. Murders. Ella let out a breath. Don’t think about it. She swallowed and her throat was so dry it hurt. Ironic. Dehydrated on the wettest night of the year. She almost smiled but caught herself.

She chanced a look at the stranger again. He seemed totally focused on his newspaper. But he still hadn’t unfolded it. A damp satchel hung from one of his broad shoulders and she could see the cap of a water bottle poking out from inside. Her throat clenched a little. How could she have gotten so thirsty without realising?

Her eyes went back up his arm and to his face. He looked up then. Made eye contact and didn’t break it. But he didn’t smile. He just looked at her in the most physical way one person can ever look at another. It felt violent. For a few long seconds, the shock prevented her reacting. And then heat surged. Anger? Embarrassment? Why should she be embarrassed?

She tore her eyes away and busied herself with searching through her bag for water she knew wouldn’t be there. Her pulse raced and, for a while, she couldn’t hear anything else. Did he want sex? The idea seemed implausible. Commuters had a silent, unspoken code of conduct but then, he didn’t look like a regular. And she’d never seen him before. She’d definitely have remembered a man like him. Tall. Check. Handsome. Double check. His eyelashes looked like they were an inch long, even from such a distance.

Ella rolled her eyes inwardly. It didn’t matter. It wouldn’t happen. She abandoned the water search and glared at her reflection in the train door. Sex. No time. Never any time. Not now. Not ever. Life. This life. Something she’d been instrumental in creating. How could she have let it happen?

Every little thing had stacked up into a teetering pile and it seemed like one small imbalance could make it all fall apart. Too tired. Way too tired. Too much running around, chasing elevators, killing time at the photocopier, filing and fetching and coffee and lunch orders and reapplying lipstick and killing herself with her own bright white chirpy telephone voice.

And his eyes were on her again, and she knew it and he knew she knew it and he looked at her like he wanted to fuck her. Oh god. Was she getting ahead of herself? Did he want her? How could he?

Everything that could happen and everything that couldn’t happen. And it could. It wouldn’t take very much. Catch his eye. Walk over. Ask him what the hell he wants. She had the words in her mind, but they were in disarray, unable to form a logical sentence. You. What. Why. Fuck. Fuck. Because maybe it’d all be a misunderstanding. Maybe he’d mistaken her for someone else or maybe he was looking at her the way people look at things in the distance; looking but not seeing; just a point where a person’s eyes rest so their mind can get on with whatever the hell it needs to get on with.

But it wasn’t that kind of look. She knew it. He knew it. And she couldn’t do anything about it. Just a man. A stranger. Jeans and a t-shirt and rain wet hair. And six stops until her station. It seemed like the journey would take forever. Maybe he’d leave first. She didn’t know. She couldn’t tell. The way he stood seemed so comfortable and yet so unimportant like he wouldn’t make a sound if he walked away.

The sentences began to form.

What are you looking at? (Too childish.)

Is there something I can help you with? (Too whorish.)

What’s your problem? (Too confrontational.)

Ella blew out a breath. Fuck it. Just fuck everything. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered. All she’d wanted all afternoon was to get home, shut the door, slide the bolt across, spend half an hour under a hot shower and then eat popcorn, ice-cream and whatever the hell else she’d saved up for a day like this. At least, that had been the plan. But now there was another part to the equation making it so much harder to figure out. The way he looked at her.

He was doing it again and she didn’t acknowledge it but she felt it and her stomach almost hurt. Some kind of hungering appreciation. Nobody had ever looked at her quite that way. Nobody. Not even the guys she’d been naked with. There’d been a sick futility to all her relationships. Doing things for the sake of doing them. Just another part of the weekly routine. Like work. Like eating.

And this man who’d never touched her, never spoken to her, never even been in the same room as her, was looking at her in a way that made her feel so wanted it was dirty. A kind of desperate reverence. He wanted to fuck her. It was an assumption and yet it was so obvious she felt people might laugh if she’d denied it. But what people? The crowd on the train had no idea. They didn’t see her and they didn’t see him. Absorbed in phones, in books, in music, in their own heads.

It suddenly felt like she saw them for the very first time. Like she’d been one of them only yesterday and now something had dragged her out of that dream and this was real-life, glaring and obvious and it’d never been something she’d ever thought of as beautiful but it seemed that way now.

He looked at her as she looked at everyone else and she wondered why. Why her? Exactly why? Why is anyone more important than anyone else? Beauty isn’t the way a thing looks but the way you see it and why was he seeing her and did it even matter? Shouldn’t she just accept that he was?

She forced herself to look at him. Not at his face because she knew she didn’t have any hope of holding eye contact. His dark t-shirt. His arms. The kind of arms one might feel safe in. Ella blew out a breath and fought the urge to hate herself. Her eyes dropped to the front of his jeans. His cock. Was that a more reasonable thing to think about?

The train stopped again. Passengers exited. Marble Arch. Three stops until Notting Hill. And then what? She’d get off. Chances were, he wouldn’t. And this was all it was ever going to be. Some wordless, pointless connection on the Central line. Unless. Well. Unless she made it into something more. She considered it whilst knowing she didn’t have the nerve. She thought of his cock again, trying to imagine it with nothing to go on. Thoughts were harmless, after all. Nobody would ever know what was going on inside her crazy mind.

His eyes were still on her. She turned her back on him, ejected thoughts of his anatomy from her mind and tried to remember which flavour ice-cream waited patiently in her freezer. The train drew to another stop. People moved, leaving and boarding, jostling past. She glanced back at where the stranger had been standing. He’d disappeared. But there was a sudden presence right behind her. Not touching, though if she took a step back, they’d have made contact. Close enough to feel without feeling.

She didn’t turn around. She looked to her side, saw the edge of his bag. She almost panicked. But what was there to panic about? His hand had curled around the metal pole a foot above hers. Clean nails. Strong fingers. Before she knew what she was doing, she was imagining them inside her. The thought almost made her legs give way.

He didn’t speak. He didn’t touch her. He just stood behind her. Maybe he was waiting for her to do something. Ella thought about all the possible things she could do until her station came and then she got off without doing a single one of them and hurried home.


Nothing had changed, she told herself as she lay wide-awake in bed that night. It was all in her head. A muted connection. Eighteen minutes of her life. Nothing. Trivial. And yet, he was all she could think of. Why couldn’t she have at least asked his name? She could have bumped into him accidentally-on-purpose and struck up a conversation. But she hadn’t. She’d done nothing but be woefully passive and chances were, she’d never see him again.

She wondered about him. His job. Where he lived. What was in his bag. Whether he looked at other girls the way he looked at her. And then back to the safer questions. Did he smoke? Did he have a sense of humour?

There’d been a time where that kind of lonely-hearts-ad thing had been important to her. Stupidly important since none of it seemed to matter anymore. None of the guys she’d been with had impacted her life in a good way. They’d merely added cynicism and workaholicism and a distrust of all their kind.

Men. Inflated egos over fragile insecurities. Ulterior motives and indecisive immaturity. Not worth the time. Not worth the free drinks. And yet, a stranger making eyes at her on a train suddenly seemed more worthwhile? Ella wanted to laugh at herself but feared she might start crying.

“What the hell is going on with you?” she asked and immediately felt foolish for talking out loud in an empty flat.

She tried not to think of the way he’d looked at her. It felt like too much all at once. Too dangerous. Too obvious. It made her stomach clench in the most wistful way. She could have fucked him. She could have made it happen somehow. And even though she’d never been the kind of person who’d even entertained the idea of casual sex, she found herself full of regrets.

Everything felt hot.

Her fingers pushed up the hem of her t-shirt and walked across her stomach deliberatively. She thought of him. Not so much the way he looked but the way he stood so close to her, maybe a foot between them. Twelve inches of patient distance. And it affected her so intensely. It made her heart pound and her eyes close.

What would she have done if he’d touched her? Let him? Or shoved him away? It wasn’t the kind of thing you could speculate about.

But there were other things. Her hand slipped beneath the waistband of her underwear and stroked tentatively. She couldn’t remember feeling so turned on. Her legs shifted apart without instruction and her fingertip pressed hard against her clit, making her whole body ache.

Fuck,” She whispered the word almost desperately.

In her mind, he was already hers. He was all hers and naked and beautiful and hard and gentle all at once. How would he fuck? Her mind flickered like some crazy porno, all the best scenes she’d ever watched spliced together into one intensely satisfying reel. And it was stupid. She knew it was utterly ridiculous to think all these things about a man she’d never see again but what was the harm?

Her fingers slicked back and forth shamelessly. She’d never been wetter. Her shirt was already soaked with sweat and her teeth bit hard on her bottom lip. She imagined him recklessly; the way he’d feel, the way he’d touch her, his fingers. God, why did the thought of his fingers make her so breathless?

Her free hand grasped her tit through the damp t-shirt. It hurt in the best way. She thought of his cock again, imagined it in his hand, rubbing against her face. One of her ex’s had been seriously into that kind of thing but his fixation had made it almost tiresome. In her mind, if the stranger on the train jerked off in her face, nothing could be hotter.

Memories and fantasies pieced together, the bad seamlessly edited out until she got so close, she had to pull her hand away. The bedroom window was cracked open and the rain had picked up speed again. All of a sudden, she realised she remembered how the stranger had smelled when he stood behind her.

Like rain. And pine. And grass. She laughed a little, more at herself than anything and pushed her face into the pillow, turning onto her front as her hand pressed against her throbbing snatch. She blew out a breath. The way he looked at her. It all came down to that look. Those eyes. She didn’t even know what colour they were but did it matter when she felt them inside her so completely?

He wanted to fuck her. He wanted her. She didn’t know anything about him but the thought filled her with swooping warmth. Her finger pressed against her clit and she moaned into her pillow, lifting her hips off the mattress to give her hand better access.

His cock. She thought of how it would feel in her hand, solid and warm and throbbing. If she could make him come that way or if he’d prefer to push it inside her. Her teeth sank into the pillow. Her eyes were closed tight. If she stretched hard enough, she could practically feel him. It spiralled out of control suddenly; before she’d fully thought of it, she was imagining his voice in her ear, his weight against hers, the way he’d hold her and make her come. The things he’d make her do.

The thoughts spun and twisted into one another, building steadily, almost out of her control. Her mind raced. All of it came back to that look. Everything centred on it. He wanted her. Was he thinking of her? The idea sent a thrilling shock through her. Was he? Somewhere, anywhere in the rainy, dark city was he thinking of her like she was thinking of him? Was he touching himself? Fuck.

She came quicker than she’d wanted, pressing urgently against her own hand as she gasped into the soft pillow, her entire body soaked in sweat. It went on, desperate and draining until she finally slumped down onto the bed. She tucked her knees up to her chest and huddled there, trying to catch her breath.

Fantasies were fantasies. Based on books and music and movies. Things she bought and believed in if only to dream. Maybe he was nothing like she envisioned. How could he be? But did it matter when he looked at her the way he did? How could one look fill her with so much clenching warmth?

She fell asleep with a lilting thought that maybe no one would ever look at her that way again and maybe for that reason, nobody would ever be good enough.


It came around again almost as though to taunt her. As though to say, “You wished you’d had the nerve to do something about him so here’s your chance,”

What were the chances? Two times in two days. The same train. Almost all the same people. And he stood there, the newspaper unfolded this time, blue jeans instead of black but everything else was exactly the same.

Ella eyed him surreptitiously, aching with tension. There was simply no way she could not talk to him. And yet, her feet refused to move. Her fist was tight around the safety pole. She thought of all the things that could go wrong. There weren’t very many, or perhaps she deliberately wasn’t thinking hard enough. She thought of her life, of days stretching meaninglessly into one another. She thought of never seeing him again, of speculating endlessly for weeks to come.

The train hissed into the second station. He looked up, looked right at her and smiled. She started towards him.

Maybe he’d have a horrible voice. Maybe he didn’t even speak the same language. Maybe when he opened his mouth the fantasy would fade into the nothingness of two days ago. Real life always revealed the ugly side of dreams. She tried to prepare for disappointment but jittering hope encompassed everything and the closer she got to him, the faster her mind raced. Everything hinged on this moment; this very moment; just a girl on a nondescript train moving towards a stranger.

She reached him at last. He hadn’t stopped looking at her the whole time.

Up close, there was more. Maybe a couple years older than she’d thought. More stubble. An unutilised ear piercing. His eyes were blue-green.

“Hi,” she said.

He smiled.

“I was hoping you’d come over,” he replied and his voice was so deep and warm that on the cold, dark night, everything suddenly glowed gold.


Author's Note: Thank you to the generous friend who gave me the title of this piece, from which the entire story formed.

I would also like to think jimmasters who very kindly narrated this piece for me. Thank you for doing such a wonderful job with it.



This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2016-18 browncoffee
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

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