Bowled Over (A Short Story)

A brief encounter

I saw him as I sat in the crowded train reading my book in the usual early morning rush. It was just a glance but I was bowled over.

He sat across from me, laptop open. I noticed his toned slender fingers tapping away at the keyboard. He looked the city-type – grey pinstripes with a pink shirt and silk tie. I couldn’t help smiling as my pulsed raced as if doing the hundred metre sprint.

I should get back to my book, I told myself attempting to read the next paragraph. The words swam, floating across the page in a jumbled mess. I shook my head, trying to focus my vision but it was no use. My eyes refused to cooperate. It seemed they only had one focus this morning.

So I gave in allowing them to feast on the object of their interest. Curly dark brown hair cut short on the sides but left long at the top. As he leaned over his laptop, some of his hair fell on his forehead. I tamped down an impulse to lean across and push the unruly strands back. I wanted to feel their silkiness between my fingers.

My gaze roamed over his chiselled features, square jaw, firm lips, taking pleasure in the perusal. And yet I wanted more, wanted to see the colour and depth of his eyes. I silently implored him to look up, look anywhere, as long as I saw those eyes.

As if he heard my telepathic request, he ran his hand through his hair moving it off his forehead at the same time as he lifted his head. He looked straight at me, golden brown eyes smiled at me, melting my insides into a pool of lava. My already racing heart tripped over itself sending a flood of heated blood rushing from my toes to my face.

“Good morning,” his voice was silken, like honey poured over toast.

“Morning.” I returned the smile timidly, hardly recognising my croaky voice. I coughed to clear my throat.

“Do you mind if I open it?” he asked as he pointed to the window. He closed his laptop and put it away in his briefcase.

“Go right ahead,” I replied grateful that he suggested it and needing the frosty air to cool my heated skin. “It's stifling in here today.”

“Can I ask what book you are reading?” he asked as he sat back down.

His question caught me off guard as I didn’t expect him to talk to me any further. However, I was pleased with his apparent fascination. I lifted the book, showing him the front cover.

“Interesting,” he said stretching out his hand. “May I have a look?”

“Sure,” I mumbled, barely able to unglue my tongue from the roof of my mouth.

As I passed the book to him, our fingers grazed each other. I felt a sensation akin to a bolt of static travel up my arm. I nearly dropped the book due to the shock. He took it off me and flipped it to the back to read the blurb.

“Looks good. I like African literature. I’ve read books by Chinua Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Naguib Mahfouz and Ousemane Sembene.”

I could only stare in awe as this handsome stranger rattled off a list of African literary greats. I wondered why I hadn’t read all their works and made a mental note to do so at the earliest opportunity.

“So is it good then?” he passed the book back to me.

“Sorry?” I stared at him blankly being momentarily distracted by the movement of his lips as they moved in speech.

“The book,” he said pointing at the object on my lap. “Is it good?”

“Oh – yes. Very much. In fact I haven’t been able to put it down until...” I stopped myself before I could complete the statement. I could hardly tell a stranger he was the reason I put the book down, could I?

“Until?” he looked at me with an expectant smile. It was almost as if he knew what I was thinking.

“It’s nothing.” I said fumbling in my bag to hide my embarrassment. I'd already been caught, staring blatantly at a stranger on a train by the said stranger. I didn’t want to push my luck further.

“My name is Timothy.” He stuck his hand out at me again and I stared at it warily, unsure if my body could cope with the impact of contact a second time.

I glanced up tentatively and caught his stare. His look was intense; his smile beguiling, dissolving my fears. I took his hand in mine and sat there transfixed, unable to process a coherent thought, allowing my body to liquefy in the excitement that swarmed me. The rest of the world vanished momentarily, as we connected, leaving just me and my stranger - Timothy. Somewhere in my brain I registered the yearning in his eyes, like a lost soul searching for a place to call home. The hunger was there briefly and then it was gone. So was the connection, broken as quickly as it had been established.

I felt a jolt and realised the train was slowing to a halt.

“This is where I get off,” he said and passed me a business card from his pocket. “And here are my contact details.”

“Thank you.” I didn’t have a card to give him, wasn’t even sure I wanted to do so.

“I didn’t catch you name.” He stood up and put on his coat.

“It’s Abi. Abi Martins.” The least I could do was tell him my name. In any case, he was courteous and attentive.

“Well, Abi Martins. Have a nice day,” he said as he picked up his briefcase.

“You too” I replied somewhat disappointed to see him go.

He flashed me another of his disarming smile and stepped off the train. My gaze followed him as he walked along the platform and disappeared in the crowd.

© Kiru Taye October 2010


Comments 26 comments

2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

An interesting glimpse of a story. Why does he list African novels?


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Thank you for your comment. He lists African novels because she is reading one. And he wants to impress her too.


michael ely profile image

michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

Hi Kirutaye, I must confess i started reading and was put off a bit by the adverts for Mills and Boon books at the side.Fairly or unfairly they leave a negative impression. But i continued reading and was glad i did.

Great writing, telling a story very well. Michael.


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi Michael, thanks for visiting and commenting. Point taken about the adverts and amended. Cheers.


michael ely profile image

michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

Kirutaye, I didn't mean to cause any offence about the adverts. It was just my lazy viewpoint. You should have kept the same adverts up.

Cheers. Michael.


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

LOL. Michael, no offence taken. You had a valid point. I don't want to put-off potential readers, do i? So i changed it.

Have a nice day. :o))


Aritro 6 years ago

it's good, but i felt the ending could have been better


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi Aritro, thank you for visiting and commenting.

How can i improve on the ending? Your suggestions are welcome. Thanks. :o))


Neverletitgo profile image

Neverletitgo 6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

kirutaye, this is great and attractive hub. I voted up, beautiful,and followed. I forgot to say welcome to the hubpages. Thank you for sharing.


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi Abdi (Neverletitgo), thank you for you kind comments. Enjoy your weekend. :o))


emievil profile image

emievil 6 years ago from Philippines

Okay. Where's the next installment to this one? This is a great story and I am excited to read more :).


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi Emie, thanks for your comments. I wrote this story in such a way that i could revisit it later if necessary. Who knows, i might be doing sooner rather than later.


Tee Akindele 6 years ago

Totally enjoyed the piece! You penned their infatuation with such a brilliant flourish!


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Thanks Tee. Much appreciated. Come back soon. :o))


anam123 profile image

anam123 6 years ago from Canada

Oh this is really good...is there more? If there isn't, there should be. A novel perhaps.


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 6 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi Anam123, thank you for stopping by and for your lovely comments. There is definitely more on the way. See you again soon.


Mgee 5 years ago

very good ,keep it up, love you


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 5 years ago from London, UK Author

Thank you Mgee. See you again soon. :o))


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...well you definitely have a writer's eye for detail and all of the little nuances in life - and referring to one of my favorite descriptions - you have composed 'cinema for the mind' as I can envision this opening exchange between these two strangers in the video compartment of my mind ....... so promising is this first read of your realm as a short story writer - it truly seems to be your forte .......


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 5 years ago from London, UK Author

Thank you Epigramman for taking the time out to read the story. Your feedback as always puts a smile on my face.


LD 5 years ago

Oh, the joys of that first meeting...that first attraction, that first of everything that begins a relationship. You always have me tied up in emotional knots when I read your stuff...good one, Kiru.


LD 5 years ago

Oh, the joys of that first meeting...that first attraction, that first of everything that begins a relationship. You always have me tied up in emotional knots when I read your stuff...good one, Kiru.


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 5 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi LD, the excitement of the first meeting is certainly what i wanted to convey. I'm glad it came across. Thanks for stopping by.


Debra 3 years ago

Dear Kiru,

I have read the short story Bowled over, it is very nice and would like to read more. It is good to read more books in English :-) Please let me know how to get your book. Thank you.

Regards,

Debra

Amsterdam, The Netherlands


kirutaye profile image

kirutaye 3 years ago from London, UK Author

Hi Debbie,

Thank you for reading my short story. All my books are available via Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Kiru-Taye/e/B00723TSDI/ or you can visit my website http://www.kirutaye.com/

Best Regards,

Kiru


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 19 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I genuinely liked this, and disagree that the ending could have been better, because you left us wanting much, much more, and that's the calling card of a good writer. Well done!

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