I am fully content on those fleeting moments I spend alone on the tram as it glides through the night air. If I am frequenting the after dark metro service it usually means I have had a few glasses of red wine after work and therefore feel relaxed, happy and a little squidgy. I turn up the music on my iPod, lean my forehead against the vibrating window and stare into the void as blackness streams by invisibly.
It is my time to reflect on the day, think back to conversations I could have approached differently, make to-do lists in my head and generally feel pleased that I moved to a city which suits me so well. It’s my time to give thanks to Manchester for taking me in and making me feel at home almost instantly, and also giving thanks that it lays so close to my real home of Dublin city.
A boy suddenly moves from his row and takes the empty seat beside me. I say ‘boy’ because his face is full of youth, a clarity that many let slide from their expressions as adulthood closes in. He is grinning at me but I don’t know him, strangers aren’t allowed grin at strangers; that is the rule of being in public. I frown a little and pull an earbud from my blushing ears.
“Are you okay?” I ask, because anyone trying to interact with someone they don’t know, especially on public transport, can’t be ok, can they? I hold my bag a little tighter on my lap. Is this the moment my safety and solitude will be smashed in front of my naïve eyes?
“What are you listening to?” He says through the grin, almost winking a sparkling eye. He is the hero, the male lead, the Romeo. He is playing the part of the romantic love interest, he wrote these famous lines many years ago. He is flirting outrageously and I don’t know where to look.
Maybe he’ll take me under his leather jacket and scoop me away, fly me across the rooftops like a snowman at Christmas. We will get out at the same tram stop, kiss and make a pact to find eachother on Facebook. This will be the story we tell everyone, the beginning of us, the start of the rest of our lives.
“Atomic Kitten,” I say.
His face drops and he throws fingers into his floppy hair. With an awkward cough he stands up and slowly goes to the tram door, exiting at the next stop swiftly.
His dark shadow melts quickly into the heavy night and I sit back into my chair, a smile painted across my face, feeling safe in the knowledge that I haven’t met ‘the one’ to make me Whole Again, yet.