Flash Fiction: En Route

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This short piece was inspired by a scene from one of my favorite films, Shame (2011). While the movie in its entirety deals with some very serious subject matter (namely, sex addiction), I’ve always found this particular scene to be incredibly sexy.

“En Route” takes place on a subway train in New York City. Part two—the conclusion—will be posted next week.

As always, I welcome and encourage any and all feedback! (Including conversations about Shame, which I’m always happy to talk about.)

Enjoy the ride. ♥


Part One

Leila tapped the touchscreen and waited as the machine converted her funds from one nebulous form of currency to another. Taking the blue and yellow MetroCard, she tucked it into the pocket of her brown jacket and hurried down the stairs to the turnstiles. She reached the platform just as the 4 Express train screeched into the Lexington Avenue terminal, opening its maws and relinquishing the hoard of disgruntled New Yorkers. Leila wrinkled her nose at the combination of body odor and bad perfume as she boarded the packed car.

She wedged her way into the middle, dodging knees and oversized shopping bags. The conductor’s impartial voice crackled over the speakers, announcing their next stop. Hugging her purse tight against her hip, she grabbed the overhead handrail.

The lacy hem of her cornflower-blue dress grazed the tops of her thighs as the train hurtled into the dark tunnel. Leila studied the reflection of the passengers in the window: a middle-aged woman in a brown coat; a round, bald man with thick-rimmed glasses; a college-aged woman in a blue dress with dark brown bangs that needed trimming.

She brushed the errant strands from her eyes.

A man cleared his throat. Leila glanced down at the passenger seated directly in front of her and was startled to find him watching her. Most regulars knew better than to maintain eye contact on the subway, but the presence of a navy blue duffel bag between his feet gave the impression that he might not be a resident.

The train surfaced. Gray, diffused light filtered into the car and she cursed herself for not bringing an umbrella. Denim brushed her calf. She peered down into the face of the man seated before her.

He’s actually quite cute, Leila thought. In fact, he’s downright gorgeous; probably early thirties. She bit her lip as she took in his long eyebrows, strawberry-blonde locks, and premature five o’clock shadow. Calloused hands curved over splayed knees, inches from her thighs. He had long fingers with strong knuckles and pronounced veins that ran up the backs of his palms and into his sleeves.

A smile played at the edges of her mouth. A man with nice hands: my kryptonite.

Her insides clenched and she felt the urge to rub her legs together. She attempted to cross her right foot over her left, but found it impossible with the duffel bag resting at their feet.

The man cocked an eyebrow. Leila’s pulse quickened and she licked her lips, letting her mouth fall open into a slight pout. The train descended into darkness once again, bathing them in artificial light. She slid her foot a few inches to the side, closing the distance between his knee and hers.

His forefinger and thumb brushed her skin. She gasped. The man’s lips curled into a mischievous half-grin as he encircled her knee with his hand. Her heart thudded in her ears, drowning out the low growl of the train. She slid her other foot out to touch his opposite knee. He grasped her legs with both palms.

What am I doing? Leila panted. The stranger strummed his fingertips along the backs of her knees, his gaze roving over her breasts and belly.

The train turned a corner, heaving her forward. He slid his palms a few inches higher, grasping her thighs just below the hem of her dress. She whimpered.

Worried that someone could be watching, Leila scanned the train car. Everyone appeared to be minding their own business, including the woman in the red raincoat to the stranger’s immediate left, who looked to be falling asleep.

Leila gasped as he slid a hand into the hem of her dress, gently scratching her with short fingernails. Her muscles clenched and she squeezed the overhead bar. A quick glance downward revealed an imposing phallic protrusion, tucked along the stranger’s left inseam. She bit her lip.

The train staggered and wailed to a halt. Passengers shuffled towards the doors and out of the car. As the crowd dissipated, the man lowered his hands to his own thighs. An ache of disappointment gripped Leila’s chest. She sighed.

“Turn around.” His voice was deep and barely a whisper.

Leila nodded and shuffled her feet, twirling to face the crowd. New passengers clambered into the car, forcing the throng to pack even closer. The man grasped her knees and guided them a half-step back between his legs.

The train lurched and was off again.


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7 thoughts on “Flash Fiction: En Route

  1. Love it. I always enjoy a good subway story, it’s such a perfect setting, inherently brief and anonymous with the added bonus of exhibitionism. Something about the press of bodies, which would normally make me claustrophobic, becomes erotic with the slightest suggestion of sex. I look forward to reading the conclusion and in the meantime I’ll try to watch Shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always happy to receive your feedback, Foxy 🙂 I find it fascinating that public transportation seems to have its own subculture depending on where you are. I.e. talking vs. no talking; don’t make eye contact, it’s seen as aggressive; if you get lost, ask for directions, but don’t carry a map because that’s the equivalent of tattooing “Tourist” onto your forehead, etc.

      I cannot recommend Shame enough. It’s languid and seedy and arousing and heartwrenching, all at once. There are a few critics who argue that it’s more of a commentary on male sexuality in general, rather than just sex addiction. Deciding where one draws that line is part of what makes the movie so engaging.

      By the way, all those poems you’ve been posting on Tumblr have stirred the long-dormant poet in me. This does not bode well for my edits. 😛

      Like

      1. I used to spend a lot of time on the London underground and it was generally friendlier after midnight, whether that’s because most travellers are a bit inebriated by then, or some other reason, I don’t know. It’s just a weird environment.

        I’m not sure a subject as endless as (male) sexuality could be dealt with satisfyingly in a single film, unless is believes that sexuality conforms to a narrow range of variables, which would be a little naïve.

        The poetry is really helping my own story-writing. The free-writing exercise you recommended is pretty much what I’m putting on Tumblr each day, and my evenings are dedicated to stories. If you’ve got poetry I want to read it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, this leaves me aching with anticipation just like the heroine when she (briefly) loses his touch. I can just about anticipate what happens next… I figured for sure… and then we’re left with a cliffhanger, pining for next week and part two. You set the scene beautifully, with sights, sounds, smells, colors — touch — everything for a full sensory experience from just the written words. Quite amazing in such a short piece, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you! I was a little worried that I hadn’t fleshed out the main character enough, but I guess that’s kind of the point with flash fiction: you don’t have a lot of time or space, so you have to illustrate the protagonist’s personality through action, with maybe a line or two of introspection.

      So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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