‘Orange Shoes, White Shiny Laces’
By Tim Marshall
Orange shoes, white shiny laces. Curly brown hair. Must be smart. Must be left of centre. Must be funny. Would make me laugh in our private moments. Cook me chocolate cupcakes in polka dot cups. Read me the loveliest poems. Two metres away. Just two whole metres.
I’m here! I’m right here! Favourite food? Lasagne. Me too!
Are you an artist? Wow! Of course, orange shoes, you can express yourself. You’re so fearless.
I’m smiling. Can you see? You’ll smile back. I know you will. Long thin fingers. Fingers for writing. Fingers for playing the guitar softly to me while I fall asleep. Fall asleep in our big warm king size bed, with big white pillows. Under the doona on a cold night. You’re keeping me warm.
I feel so sure of you. You are the only one I see. Just you! You! You!
I want us to stay on this train forever. Just you and me. Two metres apart. If you’d just stop looking at your orange shoes, white shiny laces, and look at me! No one else sees you now. Just me. I understand you without any words.
When are you getting off? What station is yours? Tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine. Maybe it’s the same station. I bet it is. I bet we work next door to each other or even in the same building, and the universe has kept us apart till now. Till this moment here on the city train. It’s fate.
That jacket is too big for you. I like it. You don’t fit the mould. You are not like every other grey face on the train.
You are magnificent.
You would tap me on the shoulder one day when I’m not expecting you and, as I turn around, you would present me with a bouquet of flowers made from long thin balloons. I would laugh and laugh. You would take my hand and kiss it. The wet feeling of your lips on my skin.
Brown eyes. Deep brown eyes. I see them now. Your glance is coming up. Up! Up! Up! The softest eyes I‘ve ever seen. I’m feeling light headed.
Your eyes look to the window. The city skyline in your sight. It is beautiful isn’t it? The sunlight shining upon your curly, quirky, smart hair against the backdrop of our romance.
Our hands will fit together so well.
Are you getting off here? At Roma Street? At the next stop? Don’t get off here. Wait one more stop. Please! It’s our fate my sweet orange shoed angel, lit by the morning sun. Turning…
Turning your head towards me. Turning your head to meet my eyes. To meet my…
I can’t! I look away. Oh God! Are you looking at me right now? Are you thinking the same things I did when I first saw you? I’ll look at you on the count of three.
The jolt of your eyes! Our eyes at last. No! You’ve looked away, and I forgot to smile. I’ve messed up the plan. Our plan for our life together.
The doors open. ‘Roma Street. Roma Street Station.’ Don’t move an inch. You’re staying…
You’re staying! It’s meant to be, I knew it! ‘Doors closing. Please stand clear.’ The next station is both of ours I just know it!
I wonder where you are going? Do you work in a cool clothes store? A cool music store? Do you have your own art gallery? You would definitely be doing something free spirited. Oh I know. You go to uni. Yes, that’s what you do. You study art and literature. Oh you’re so wise. The poems you will read to me will take my breath away. They’ll be love poems you’ve found just for me.
Here’s comes our stop. It is your stop! You’re watching the window on the door. Waiting to get off.
Oh I know! What if I were to grab the door handle at the same time as you? Our first touch! I can feel it in me. The soft fire of your skin. The heat of your fingers. One touch would be enough. You’d be addicted to me then. Addicted like I am. You’d want to run and play with me in the rain.
‘Central. Central Station.’
This is it. One and a half metres apart. One. A half. Three centimetres. I can feel your energy in me now, dancing through my veins. Can you hear my heart? Boom boom. Boom boom. Surely you’ve noticed me by now. I’ll seal it with this touch. I reach. I’m reaching. Your artist’s hand, long thin fingers, wrapped around the handle. Waiting for my embrace.
Now! Now! Now! I reach. I’m reaching.
I touch your skin.
Your drawing invisible lines on my back as I lie beside you. I exhale. Oh, just to feel your touch.
The electricity of your hand burns me. I pull away, invigorated. I look to you. Three centimetres away, you direct your soft brown eyes to me. I’m in love in this moment. I want to turn to the crowd and cry out above the silence.
‘I’m in love! I’m in love!’
You glance away. Look back! Why are you denying me? I forgot to smile. If only I had smiled. Then you would’ve known that I felt it too. My hand is still tingling with the print of your skin.
You’re stepping off the train now. I step off behind you. Orange shoes, white shiny laces up the escalator towards the exit. Where are you taking me? A surprise picnic? In the botanic gardens? I’ll go wherever you take me. What do you smell like? A summer’s day road trip to the beach? Sea salt in your hair. We’ll spend all afternoon rolling in the sand. You’re so carefree. You make me want to wake up every morning and enjoy the world.
Across bustling Adelaide Street. Three and a half metres ahead. The crowd is falling away as we pass. This is our history together. You and I and I and you. Do you know I’m behind you? Can you sense me? I bet you can. Of course you can. You’ve felt the electricity of our touch. You know this love as well as I do.
Up the mall now. Past the shops. My pace quickens. Two metres. I could reach out and touch you now. Spin you around and pull you into me for our first kiss, here in front of Hungry Jacks. Our anniversaries will be spent here every year as an ode to this kiss. Your soft lips unfolding the entire meaning of my life.
You’re turning right, off the mall, into an alley. You planned this so we could be alone didn’t you? My love, my sweet. You’re slowing down now, waiting for me to catch up. You’re close enough for me to touch you.
Why are you stopping?
It’s not private enough here. People will watch us; ruin all the silence of our romance. Keep walking my darling.
You turn to face me, your eyes hitting mine.
This is it.
Your skin is so smooth, your lips taste like strawberry. Your movements excite me, and together we fall into a pile of full garbage bags beside us.
Your hair is in my fingers. I’ve lost your smell amidst the stench, but I don’t care. We’re together. Your tongue. Your mouth. The little golden hairs on your arm, standing up on end as I stroke them. They all belong to me. No one else has ever seen you, only me. You were made just for me to hold and kiss.
On your seventieth birthday I’ll throw you a big surprise party with all of our friends in attendance. Colourful streamers. Balloon flowers. Chocolate cake. We’ll dance together in our creasing skin. We’ve held each other together all these years. Seventy candles. We’ll blow them out together.
We’re kissing again. This is the second time now. The second taste of you. I can see your entire world when I close my eyes. I could easily forget about everything else here in this silence with you. Your heart beats in my ears, quickened by the passion of this kiss. This kiss with so much force in it. Our teeth clashing together. I feel as though we will fuse into one another.
Why are you crying? Dry your tears my sweet artist. Our love is here to stay.
Take my hand. I won’t let go of you. I’m here to be by your side. It’s why I was born. Your face is all I can see in this dark quiet place, the filthy black ground is forgotten, the dirt on my fingers an afterthought in the purity of your presence. Your constant tears interrupting your soft skin.
I caress your face; I wipe your tears away.
Look up now. Look up at me!
I’ll smile this time and you will see. There is no need to ever fear what we have. If only you would just look up, my sweet, orange shoes, white shiny laces, must be smart, must be funny, curly locks, suit jacket too big, mustn’t fit the mould, poetry reading artist.
Skin soft to touch, slowly growing cold.