OUT OF THE SHADOWS (STORY)
The shadow people. You’ve seen them all around you. When you’re on the tube, in the bus, at the airport. All sorts of people, all sizes, shapes and descriptions. People you’ve never met, never spoken to, going about the fabric of their business, as if some big casting director in the sky looking down on them, has seen them and said “Quick, Jill’s coming down the street, best put a few extras in, make it look authentic.”
Well, that day, the world seemed even more full of shadowy figures than ever. The first train was late, and that seemed to delay the second one too, and then, before you knew it…….
“I guess no-one’s going to be on time today,” said a pleasant male voice. I looked up. And standing there was a tall, young, slim, blonde man with deep blue eyes and a cheeky grin. Sure, I’d noticed him on the platform many times before, but I’d never actually spoken to him. I guess he was just like one of those regular TV extras, you see them propping up the bar in the soaps sometimes when you manage to steal a glimpse away from the main characters. Just part of the scenery. I’ve that read some of them even have a career, just doing that. Imagine.
I put down my paper. “No, I guess, not.” I agreed,“I hope the train comes soon though, I’m frozen.”
He looked at me with a kind smile. “Hang on, I’ll get you a coffee. Don’t want your nose turning blue now, do we?”
And then, before I could stop him, he’d disappeared back into the crowd. Eventually, I spotted him waiting at the back of a very long queue at the small café on the platform.
Ten minutes later, the train arrived and it was packed. Just time for the doors to open quickly, and for just two people to get out and make space for two lucky people to get in ………
But what to do now? Jump quickly into the train and so lessen my chance of an even bigger dressing-down from Mr Hayes on the importance of punctuality, or miss my chance with quite the cutest guy I’d seen in Bumblebridge for a long time?
“Well, are you getting on or not?” shouted a stout man behind me, clad in a Burberry overcoat. “Some of us have work to go to.”
That decided me. I jumped on and so did Mr Burberry, and then despite the protests of the rest of the crowd, the train doors closed.
The last thing I saw through the window before the train departed was the young blonde chap frantically waving at me holding two cups of coffee.
“Drat, and double drat,” I thought as I arrived at Newbury’s Bank.
“Punctuality, Miss Robertshaw,” said my short, bespectacled boss, Mr Hayes, looking derisorily at his watch. “This is a bank, you know, not a drop-in.”
Pointless trying to explain about late trains, missed coffee cups and the like. There was already a queue building up at the counter.
“Thank goodness, you’re here, Jill,” breathed Polly at the next counter, “Old Hayes was going to have your guts for garters today and no mistake.”
But there wasn’t too much time to brood on the morning’s events, not with all those customers waiting to pay in this, take out that, open this account, close that account, transfer this, change that … on and on till 5.00 pm.
I looked for him on the train going home, of course, and again on the platform the next morning. But nothing. I even let one train go, just in case, but thought I’d best not risk missing any more. After all, the blonde guy was cute, but I wasn’t about to let Hayes fire me now, not when I needed the money for a new flat I’d seen advertised in the Humbridge Estate Agents’ window. A place of my own was something I dreamed of, somewhere with a bit more space. It was just getting so cramped at home.
“Now, Jill, you know you can stay here as long as you like,” my sister Vivienne had assured me, “It’s just that with the baby coming soon, we will be needing a bit more room.”
And she was right which is why I needed that job at the bank with its special staff mortgage discount just a bit more than I needed a cute guy at the moment.
And, as ever more yellow ducks and blue rabbits started appearing on the nursery room walls, I realised I would need to make my move very soon.
With all the excitement, after a few weeks, I even forgot to look out for the blond guy anymore. He’d obviously melted back into the shadows by now. In any case, I had more important things to think about. I had the chance of a beautiful one-bedroomed ground floor flat, just on the outskirts of town. It would need taking a train from a different station to work as it was on a different line. But that didn’t matter. And with its charming wooden, country-style fitted kitchen and its delightful little garden, I really didn’t have to think twice.
It must have been on the third day going into work from the new station that I spotted him. He had his nose in a book and was quite oblivious to me. Funny him turning up like that at my new station. I wasn’t going to say anything at first but then ……….
“Due to signalling problems, please expect significant delays on all trains today.”
“Significant delays,” I thought, “Here we go again,” and an image of Hayes’ puce face and quivering moustache came unbidden into my mind.
He put down his book momentarily and our eyes met.
I’m not sure who spoke first.
“Oh, it’s you, the train’s been…….”
”Oh, goodness, look, I’m sorry about the coffee but…”
And then we both laughed. And, in between laughing, I explained about my new flat, and he told me how he’d recently split up with his girlfriend and was back living with his parents in a house which was actually only two streets away.
“Perhaps, we could go out for a drink one evening,” said the young man, whose name turned out to be Steve. “The Lizard Arms has some quite decent pub grub these days and a roaring fire.”
And who could resist an invitation like that? After all, sometimes it was good to come in from the shadows. And after all, who knew what extras the future might have in store for both of us?