I get onto the metro this morning to go into town. In front of me sits a woman wearing a hijab, her back to me. Opposite her sits a young man in an eggshell blue shirt, with chunky silver rings on all his fingers. It’s not clear to me whether or not they know each other.

After a couple of minutes he apparently touches her foot with his. She seethes “Don’t touch me don’t touch me DON’T TOUCH ME!” A pause. He says to her “Nice watch”. She takes off the watch, which, like his rings, is silver and chunky and heavy-looking and hurls it at his face, catching him just above the eye. When he has regained his composure he smirks and says “Nice clothes”. The response is not what he had hoped for. She harangues him, saying that she’d told him a thousand times to leave her alone, that she’s not interested, that he should stop following her around like a puppy.

Throughout her face remains hidden to me, so I can only see him. Occasionally he’ll fight back or make some sarcastic remark but she’s relentless, and across his face flit a variety of emotions from disappointment to fear to embarrassment to contempt to discomfort. Mostly he seems confused and upset. This clearly wasn’t how things were supposed to go.

She gets off at the same stop as me, leaving him sitting alone, blushing and rubbing his sore temple.


4 thoughts on “Spat

    • simonlitton July 19, 2010 / 7:06 pm

      Well, it’s not so clearcut. In some cultures throwing timepieces at each others’ heads is all part of the courtship ritual.


  1. marga July 20, 2010 / 1:26 pm

    I thought this was the starting chapter for an “alternative” novel


    • simonlitton July 21, 2010 / 6:34 pm

      Every day on the Brussels metro is the opening of an alternative novel, Marga.


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