I’m sitting on a bench waiting for a train and it’s getting on for ten o’ clock. The line is messed up and we’re waiting around for a long time. I suddenly notice a girl staring at me out of the corners of my eyes. I wonder what she’s up to. She starts walking over and comes and sits down next to me. This is rather unusual – girls usually stay away from solitary males at about this time in London. She asks me if I’ve been waiting for a long time. I say yes and then look in the opposite direction (she might be crazy – that’s the usual kind of girl that talks to me – a combination of crazy and Catholic). She then asks me if I’m a student.
I turn around and look at her. She looks Mediterranean, most probably Italian or Greek. She’s wearing a long black coat and has even blacker hair. I tell her yes, I am a student and she starts giving me the whole introduction thing. Hi, I’m Louisa. I’m studying Cognitive Science at UCL, I live in North London (doesn’t everybody?) She’s second year and is taking out a gap year next year. Oh, a gap year? I ask. What are you planning to do with it? She mutters something about operations. I say, ‘oh, you’re getting practical experience for your degree?’ She looks at me blankly. Then she says, no, I’m getting operated on. Oh, sorry to hear that, I say. What’s the problem, is it private? No, it’s not private, she says, thin-lipped. Maybe I’m being intrusive, I start thinking. After a moment’s silence, she starts telling me that she’s going to have both her legs broken and reset. I sit there thinking what to say. After a while, curiosity gets the better of me, and I ask her what would happen if she didn’t have the operation. She says she wouldn’t be able to walk again, looking at me narrowly. The tube comes and we sit uncomfortably on it while she tells me she knows two other Indian guys with my same name at University, that it’s a common name. We stop talking and change at Holborn and she looks relieved as I walk off to get the Central line back home.