In this creative writing course homework we had to create the dialogue between people without them speaking (or at least the narrator hearing) any words. I think that was what it was – I was away at a meeting, travelling by train!
They were sitting on the bench opposite me. She wore a grumpy expression at odds with her smart attire. Apart from his carefully pressed trouser legs and well-polished brogues he was hidden behind the broadsheet newspaper which occasionally flickered into life as he turned a page. She sipped a coffee from a cardboard cup held with disdain by gloved fingers. She muttered to him and received the briefest twitch of the newspaper in response. She drained her cup and set it at her feet, among the detritus left by others. Squashed coke cans, tomato smeared burger boxes.
She clutched her handbag on her lap as she spoke again. The paper lowered slightly, but not enough to see his face. He was wearing a hat though. A trilby or one like it. He disagreed with her assessment and she turned away in disgust. Compressed lips said more than her mouth did. It was clearly all his fault. She opened her bag and took out two pieces of cardboard, placing one behind the other as she read them in turn. She made her point to him again, but the paper raised an inch as he crossed his legs. It was nothing to do with him. The paper was his defence against the world, and in particular against her acrimony.
She stood, brushing her lap of crumbs, real or imagined, and told him what she was going to do. He lowered his paper completely, revealing a peevish bespectacled face. She was making a fuss about nothing. She should sit down and stop drawing attention to them.
If she wanted to draw attention she would, she must have said as she turned to him, then threw back her head and spun round on her heels. She took two or three steps towards the station manager’s office before the ding-dong of the announcer rang through the station.
“Passengers waiting for the 16.54 to London St Pancras International are advised that their tickets will be valid on the next service and they should now proceed to the Eurostar check in. We apologise for the inconvenience. Please have your tickets, boarding passes and identity cards ready for passport control.”
I should think so too, was her clear statement as she swept through the station, followed by the man, who was hurriedly folding his paper and floating along in her wake. As always.