The tube carriage is close to empty when I finish my book; an old couple sit at the far end, a man with a duffle bag stands in the centre well. There is also a girl sitting opposite me, reading as I am.
I close the final page of my book and as I do I see the girl close her book as well. She looks up, stares ahead for a second, lost in thought, then puts the novel on her lap and places both hands on top of it in a final, concluding flourish.
‘Done?’ She asks, pointing at the book I’m holding.
‘Me too.’ She smiles lazily. ‘How was it for you?’
The girl is Asian, or at least part Asian, dressed in a loose fitting vest and black jeans. Her hair is long, tied up loosely behind her. Her ears are pierced.
‘Good’ I say. ‘You want to read it?’
‘What is it?’
I pass her the book and she reads the back cover.
‘Sounds good,’ she says.
She passes her book to me and I take it. I read the back cover.
‘How is it?’
‘It will make you cry.’
‘You’re not crying’ I say.
‘I don’t cry easy.’
She smiles again, then leans forward.
‘Have you heard of a ‘meet-cute’?’ she asks.
‘Yes’, I say.
‘This is it.’ She says, ‘This is one. Two strangers finish their books at the same time, in the same carriage of the same tube. They talk. They swap books. They promise to meet again in one month’s time, to the hour, to the minute.’
‘You want to swap books?’ I ask.
The tube is slowing, the lights of the stations flashing through the carriage windows. She stands, gathers her bag up, still with my book held in her hands.
‘Sure,’ I say, ‘Okay’.
She puts the book in her bag.
She points her hand towards the book I’m now holding, ‘That one’s good. Enjoy it.’
‘I will.’ I say.
The doors hiss open and she moves towards them.
‘And in a month’s time we meet again?’
‘Possibly.’ She says, ‘Possibly.’
As she walks past the window I turn my head to follow her, and then the train pulls off and the crowds seem to grow on the station and when I search for her she has already disappeared in the press of bodies.