Busy days turn her on. Days when there’s standing room only, and the throng on the platform is three layers deep. When the density of the crowd makes it flow as slow as tar, and the crush inside the carriage is almost painful. Contorted bodies. Strangers pressed reluctantly against strangers. She always finds herself in the middle of that squeeze, pinned in place by indifferent flesh. You can’t avoid touching someone when it’s as crowded as that, even if it’s just a hip or an elbow.
She always ends up focussing on that one spot. As the train rocks and jolts its way down the tunnel she’ll feel her attention focussing, pulling, pooling in the exact place where she presses up against them. Were it not for their clothes, she often muses, she and the stranger would be touching flesh on flesh. Are they as aware of the soft press of her body as she is of theirs? On thoroughly crowded days she might find herself pinned in place by a dozen such touches. They hold her, these unfamiliar bodies, as firmly as if in bondage. It’s an intimate thing, she thinks, to share with people she can never hope to know – to pass a journey feeling the in and out of someone’s every breath, or with the soft fat of their backside planted against her hip.
There is one occasion in particular that she remembers. Rush hour. A central line service so packed that she found herself marooned in the middle of the carriage, too far from any handhold to reach for support. The doors shut, and the train jerked into motion and – unable to stop herself – she stumbled against the man beside her. He grabbed her wrist, and her own hand found his hip. She felt something inside her invert itself. The forbidden thing: touch. All these thousands of people streaming through narrow tunnels, tiny trains – all of them studiously avoiding contact. And yet, as easily as an accident, here was touch…
She straightened up a little. Didn’t look him in the eye. Didn’t move her hand. As if by some unspoken agreement, he didn’t release her wrist either. The train swayed its way around a long curve, and he held her in place, firm and strong. Her palm was resting just above his hip. She could feel there the definition of muscle through the thin material of his shirt. She could feel the strength in him, as though it was static electricity, bridling below the surface, waiting to jump. How many people had touched him here, ever? Had felt this part of him at such length? Lovers only, surely. And her. She could feel her own pulse in the fingers of the hand he held. He must be able to feel her pulse too. Feel it quicken. Know, perhaps, at least some of what she was thinking.
And yet around them the train, despite its fullness, was silent. No voices. No words. Just the tinny murmur of some headphone music. Commuters stared into empty space, or doglegged their arms awkwardly through the crush to examine the screens of their phones. She wanted to speak, in that moment. To part her lips, very slightly, and moan – let that private, personal sound reverberate around the car. Her arousal was like along thread, red-hot, that ran through her body from her cunt to the crest of her brain.
Another jolt. The train was slowing now, rolling into her stop. She could feel herself blushing, and some self-destructive urge compelling her to look at the man whose skin warmed her palm. But to look would break the spell. As the train squealed to a halt, he released her wrist and – breath held – she wriggled her way through the crowd and out the doors, onto the platform. There she paused, letting the masses – looser here, like salmon in a river – stream around her. She was wet. She could feel her own wetness. Her heart hammered against her ribs hard enough to hurt. She turned, but the doors were already shut, and as she watched the train growled into motion, and picked up speed, and disappeared into the darkness beyond the station.