We were on the underground, exhausted and drained and grumpy and not holding hands. The carriage was full, and we were standing, and she was standing slightly away from me. We weren’t touching, and although neither of us had said, I knew why.
Because this morning we’d been holding hands walking down the street, minding our own business, and an old woman had shouted at us.
You’re the reason the world is a mess! she’d yelled, and worse things too, and we’d dropped hands like the other was on fire, too afraid to shout back at her.
And here we were, on an underground, and there was a distance between us that hadn’t been there before.
The train shuddered to a halt and I swayed with the motion, shifting out of the way for the people coming on. I was tired and upset and I wanted to be home, wanted to be safe in our flat where I could hug her and we could sleep in each other’s arms.
But then, music started, and I jumped, glancing around. Further down the carriage, a group of men were standing, dancing, one with an accordion and one with a drum and one with a trumpet, and they were playing, but more than that they were having fun. Dancing and scatting and grinning, playing the most joyous song that filled the carriage with noise and music.
I looked over at her. Her foot was tapping and her lips were curving into a tentative smile, and she met my eyes, hers so bright and blue and beautiful, and the emotions I saw there mirrored my own. And I reached out my hand and she took it, and then we were dancing, dancing terribly and ungracefully and uncoordinated in this cramped underground train. She spun me and I laughed, and someone cheered, and she grinned, wide and uncontrolled, and the music continued and we smiled.