Reportage: Silent gavotte
She was pretty much asleep, even at 8.07am, traveling northbound on the Northern line, one hand clinging on to the yellow handrail above her, the other holding on to a bottle of Coke, her concession to trying to wake up.
She was wearing a blue and white flower print skirt, more blue than white, and black flip flops that sparkled brightly. Her sandy, shoulder-length hair had just been washed and had started to dry, but not well or evenly. She was lost in a song – from the way she was gently rocking her head, I imagined it to be some sort of soft rock, maybe Foreigner. Even though she was clearly too young to have remembered them the first time round.
At Waterloo, he got on. Same height as her, with yellow skulls across his olive green t-shirt, skinny black jeans and back and white check Vans. His grey hair with black roots lay in perfect, greasy, artless waves. He nestled into her personal space, with a wide open smile. And she responded; boy did she respond. He did what the Coke hadn’t managed, her eyes blazing, a silent laugh running from the top to the bottom of her face. Still silent, their heads bobbed together for 30 seconds or so, a dance where all the energy was concentrated above the neck, looks never moving away from each other.
And as quickly as this limited gavotte had started, it ended. She went back to her Coke, and her Foreigner and her semi-sleep. He looked up at the ceiling, and stayed stock still.
Until they both got off at Goodge Street. There, as they were the last into lift two, his gentle hand ushered her in. And as I was running out of the station, I caught a glimpse of them crossing into Chenies Street, no silence between them this time, as laughter animated them away into the day.