It’s just hard to believe that when none of it would have happened if I hadn’t let myself fall in love with another woman. It wouldn’t have happened had I not told Miranda that night that I wanted a divorce. They’d still be alive. And I wouldn’t be the archaic ruins of a man.
And Natasha is gone, even if the memories remain. In my deep, near suicidal grief, I told her that we had been a mistake and this was our punishment. I told her I never wanted to see her again.
It’s been four years now. She listened.
I sigh and observe my expression. I do seem haunted, as Lachlan says. My eyes seem colder, iceberg blue, the dark shadows underneath. Lachlan doesn’t know the truth though, only my therapist does. Natasha is a secret, a lie, to everyone else.
I paste on a smile that looks more like a wolf’s grin, straighten my shoulders, and walk out the door, umbrella and briefcase in hand.
My flat is on Baker Street, right across from the Sherlock Holmes Museum. In fact, when I’m particularly despondent, I spend a few hours just watching the tourists lining up to go inside. One of the reasons I picked the flat was the novelty of this. Growing up, I was a huge fan of Holmes, as well as anything Sir Arthur Conan Doyle cooked up. I’m also quite fond of the pub next door. It’s a great place to pick up women, and if they’ve just come from the museum, then you know they at least have some kind of a brain.
Not that I’ve shared more than a few drinks with these girls—I’m mainly there for the company. Then they go on their merry drunk way and I’m ever the gentleman, the man she’ll text her friends about and say “Scottish men are so well-mannered. He bought me a drink and didn’t expect anything.” Though sometimes it does end in the bedroom. The truth is, I’m not ready for dating. I’m not ready for relationships. I’m barely ready for this job.
But you are ready, I tell myself as I dodge the rain and head down into the tube, taking the passageway across to my line. This week I will set the goals for the semester; this week I’ll let the students know what to expect. This week I’ll finally start working on my book: The Tragic Clowns: Comedic Performance in Early American Cinema.
As my thoughts jumble together, I realize the train is about to close its doors. I run half-heartedly toward it, then stop dead in my tracks.
There is a woman on the train, her back to the closing doors.
I can only see her from the shoulders up.
Her hair is thick, half-wet, honey blonde, and trailing down her back.
There’s nothing about this girl that says I should recognize her. Know her.
Yet somehow I do.
Maybe not as a blonde, but I swear I do.
I walk right up to the doors as the train pulls away, staring like a madman as it roars down into the dark tunnel, willing the woman to turn her head even a little bit. But I never see her face, and then she’s gone, and I’m standing on the edge of the platform, left behind.
“Next train shouldn’t be long,” a man says from behind me, strolling past with a newspaper in his hand.
“Aye,” I say absently. I run my hand over my head, shaking sense into myself.
It wasn’t her.
How can you know someone by the back of their head?
Because you spent months memorizing every inch of her that you couldn’t touch, I think. Your eyes did what your hands and mouth and dick couldn’t.
I exhale and stroll away from the edge. The last thing I need is to start the week like this, looking for ghosts where there aren’t any.
I wait for the next train, get off at Charing Cross as usual, and walk to school.