The lover is sitting across from me in the train station, on a bed, with a green blanket pulled tight over it as though he were at summer camp. He has seen me, but he has not noticed the husband, who sits beside me and who is consulting timetables, long shiny pamphlets that fold out for miles.
You have time for a shower he says, and by “he” I mean the husband.
I look over surreptitiously at the lover, who has seen me but does not know I’ve seen him. He sighs loudly, apparently resigning himself to being ignored for the moment, and gets under the covers of the bed, preparing himself for what is sure to be a long journey.
I walk out of the train station, and jump the 3 barriers to my friend Edwina’s house, where the shower is. She is having a party. I slip into the bathroom but at least 3 women are in there talking about blow jobs and how drunk do you have to be to give one.
I don’t answer and I can’t shower. I go out. What are you doing? says, Edwina, can’t you stay for the party? No, I say. I have to deal with the lover and the husband sitting alone waiting for trains. Who knows what they’ll get in to? Then you’d better hurry, she says because the barriers have grown and as she speaks I can hear them groaning into ever greater heights. I slide down slippery cuttings of rocks like you see in a rock store. Blue and quartz and igneous, and then I am at the barriers. There are three: a wired fence, with batteries at intervals, hanging like the curls of an orthodox Jewish man, and a high brick wall, and after that a barrier I cannot see but know is there. I fly but fly backwards, ending up on the lawn.
Mind the tulips says Edwina. So I have to leap over the fences. I manage but my feet and legs get all muddy.
Thank God I didn’t shower.
I come back just as my husband is leaving. The lover is playing pool with some other young travellers. His eyes are hooded. I wish he could be acknowledged, but he has an 8 ball in the side pocket and this is as well as he’s ever done.