Waterloo station. Bottom of the escalator, going up. Brunette, mid-thirties, backpack full of last-minute Christmas presents. The last time she fucked was yesterday – a quick make-up shag after a week of loneliness. He slipped out of her just as he started to come, and she conjures the memory of the wetness spreading on the inside of her thighs, and tries not to let the other commuters see her smile.
Top of the escalator, coming down. A tall, skinny guy in a business suit. In his pocket he carries a card from a colleague that’s signed with three ‘x’s. Touching the card in his pocket, he remembers the lingering touch on his thigh under the table at the Christmas party, and tries not to let the other commuters see his smile.
Middle of the escalator, going up. A tall, slim, mid-forties woman in knee-high boots and a brand new coat. She’s carrying nothing but hope and an iPhone. She watches the signal bar, waiting for it to fill, so she can check on the location of her date. The last time they met near this station, two months ago, they ended up at his place: minimalist décor, excellent cocktails, and sex that she’s been craving ever since. He lifted her up like she weighed nothing, and impaled her on his cock.
Middle of the escalator, going down. A young woman, on the way home from University, with a backpack full of crumpled clothes and homemade mince pies for her family. The last time she passed through this station, two months ago, she thought she was in love. But last night when they parted, he told her that while he definitely loved her, he didn’t know if he was in love with her. Then he ruffled her hair like she meant nothing, before asking her to suck his cock.
Top of the escalator, going up. A blonde lad, mid-twenties, frantic that he’s almost missed his train. Instead of standing on the right he runs full-pelt up the left, offering ‘scuse me, scuse me, scuse me’ to the travellers whose bags are in his way. Last night he sucked his best friend’s cock, and this morning they woke together, nestled in each other’s arms, bundled under a duvet. When he gets on the train he will spend two hours composing the perfect ‘thank you’ text, then working out how to change his pre-booked ticket, so he can be back in those same arms in time for New Year’s Eve.
Bottom of the escalator, stepping off. A man in a long coat takes his frail wife gently by the arm and guides her towards the platform. He’s nervous about the next week, during which they’ll race full-pelt towards New Year’s Eve, staying with their eldest daughter and her two unruly children. She’s nervous about the next week, because last year their daughter put them in separate beds, as if they were friends instead of lovers. She can make it through till New Year if only they can lie together at night – touching like teenagers, the way she always likes to, when they’re staying in homes that aren’t their own.
Middle of the escalator, heading up. A blonde woman leans her head on her lover’s shoulder, and breathes in the smell of sex. Last night – after three or four too many cocktails at a Christmas party – they found themselves sharing a tiny sofa in a house that wasn’t theirs. The fights they’d had over Christmas dinner crumbled to dust as she muffled her face in a sleeping bag and tried not to scream as she came. When they get home, neither will shower – the better to retain the scent, and memory, of their last fuck before Christmas Day.
By the ticket barriers, a man with a TfL uniform grins and wishes people ‘Merry Christmas.’ He wonders who they’re going home to, or going out to, or cuddling up to. The last time he fucked was three years ago: a heady blend of passion and eagerness, tearing at his lover with desperation, believing if he did it well enough she wouldn’t leave. She stayed. They haven’t made love since, at least not to each other – she’s found someone else who makes her happy that way, and he’s still unsure if he can bring himself to do the same. But she did stay, for that he’s grateful. The fights they used to have over Christmas dinner are a long-distant memory, and this year the children will all be home with them, she’ll smile at him as she unwraps the gift he bought her, and everyone will be calm and content. That’s good enough to keep him merry this Christmas.
On the other side of the ticket barrier, his colleague gives directions to a confused tourist. She wonders if they’re going home, or have just arrived, and whether Christmas in London ever lives up to anyone’s expectations. She’s daydreaming about asking her colleague out for a drink in the New Year. In her head, he gives an eager ‘yes’ and they go to a place she knows nearby – somewhere with minimalist décor and excellent cocktails, where the bar staff don’t sneer at you for having the gall to not be young. Afterwards, they’ll go back to hers, and touch each other like teenagers. On the tiny sofa in her living room, they’ll run chilly hands under each other’s clothes, and when touching turns to much more she’ll try to muffle her screams as she comes. Perhaps he’ll pick her up and hold her in his big arms, trembling a little as he sits her neatly down onto his cock. Perhaps afterwards they’ll lie nestled in each other’s arms, reluctant to shower away the post-fuck scent of each other.
Turning away from the tourists to the next bewildered commuters, she pats her pocket to feel the outline of the Christmas card he gave her – signed with three ‘x’s.
She makes no attempt to hide her smile.