Friday 17 April 2015

'Sticky Subject' by Helen MacKinven

‘Look,’ I cocked my head in the direction of Mr Ponytail. ‘He’s writing this morning’s note.’

Mr Ponytail had scribbled a one line message on a fluorescent orange Post It note and peeled it from the pad. Shaking his head, Simon snatched up his newspaper and continued reading the Business pages.

‘You’ll miss him again, he gets off at Kelvinbridge.’

‘Ellie, I couldn’t give a toss what that weirdo does with his note. He can stick them up his arse for all I care!’

‘What’s wrong with you? I’m only making conversation.’

‘You should know by now that I’m not a morning person.’

‘And recently you’re not a day or night person either.’

But he’d already wedged his earphones back into his hairy ears. I was so busy wondering why I’d never noticed the crop of wiry hairs before, that I almost missed Mr Ponytail slip the square note inside a Waitrose carrier bag belonging to a bovine faced woman.

What did it say?

Just cos it’s Movember, doesn’t mean it’s ok to have a moustache.

The joining fee for Scottish Slimmers is free this week.

Mahogany is a good colour for wood, not hair.

But I would never know. And I would never know what he’d written on the note yesterday and dropped into the rucksack of the Beiber fringe student. Or what the note said that he slid into the pocket of the Big Man wearing the Hi Vis jacket.

Kelvinbridge subway station.

Mr Ponytail whips out his pen and scribbles a second note. This is a new development. A double day. I watch closely to see who Mr Ponytail has chosen. I strain to see the recipient through the bodies but I can’t see past Simon’s newspaper. I lean forward. The doors spew out passengers. I turn my head to see out of the window but Mr Ponytail is gone.

I sink back into my seat and sigh. Every time Simon turns the page, he flicks the paper free of creases and blots out my face. The edge of the paper strikes the side of my face.

Next stop, St George’s Cross.

Maybe we should travel separately? I could go into the office a bit later. Use my flexi time and give Simon peace. But I’d miss seeing Mr Ponytail in action.

Simon has carefully folded the paper shut, ready to be locked inside his briefcase. And then I see a flash of orange on the back page.

I swipe off the post it note before Simon can read the message too.

‘Don’t tell me that loser has stuck a note on my paper.’

I crunch it into my balled fist.

‘What does it say anyway?’

‘Oh, nothing, it’s just a silly doodle of a smiley face.’

‘Huh, how ironic from such a sad case.’

I wonder if the biro message has leaked blue ink on to my palm. Will Simon be able to read the words when he takes my hand at the station?

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1 comment:

  1. Love this, Helen. What a horrible character Mr Ponytail is! Imagine a world where everyone did that. Really like what this is saying about what is okay/not okay to think/say about others. Depending on who they are ... And I've always thought there's an unwritten rule that you don't repeat what people have said to you about others. Good work!


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