by Mandy Nicol
Lucy lived at the end of the line so she always got a seat on the tram each morning. She had fifty minutes to read her book before she squeezed through the tram doors at the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale and walked to her office where she sat at a computer for thirty-six hours and forty-five minutes every week.
The tram was jam-packed by the time it reached the halfway point at Moonee Ponds. People in drab colours hung onto hand-straps and stared vacantly at nothing. Lucy could, if she liked, pause from her reading to gaze up at someone’s crotch as it swayed around with the rattling of the tram.
And that’s how she met Jago.
She noticed his crotch above page twenty-nine because it wasn’t black, grey, navy blue, or tan.
It was purple with white stripes.
She looked him up and down. Purple and white striped jeans. Red shirt. Knotted leather necklace. Stubble. Sharp cheekbones. Long black eyelashes. Blue eyes. Pork pie hat. He didn’t belong on this tram, not at this time of the morning.
He glanced down and winked at her caught-in-the-act blush. Her eyes darted back to her book. She couldn’t decipher any words because they were dancing around the page.
‘What are you reading?’ he asked.
She lifted the book to show him the cover of The Cousin from Fiji.
‘By Norman Lindsay,’ he said. ‘As in Norman Lindsay the artist?’
‘Yes,’ she squeaked, and then blurted, ‘He was very talented, wrote The Magic Pudding of course, and lots of novels, and he painted, and sculpted. He lived a very bohemian life, but you probably know that.’ She scanned his shirt and pants again. What the hell was she doing?
‘I know he was an artist, and something about nude models is in the back of my mind.’ He smiled, showing perfect teeth.
The tram reached Lonsdale Street too quickly. Shame. Lucy gathered her bag and pushed herself upright without standing on his feet or touching his crotch. ‘Sorry, this is my stop,’ she said to him.
‘Good, it’s mine too,’ he said, inching back enough to give her space.
On the footpath in the sunlight he tipped his hat to her and said, ‘I’m Jago. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee.’
‘I’m Lucy and I’ve never been late to my job in three years. I think it’s time I lived dangerously.’
published 7 May 2014