He had dressed in the only set of clothes that he owned that morning, and already seemed to be crawling with bacteria. Not only that, but he had a feeling he'd picked up a dollop of chewing gum on his left trainer. The thought of it made him sick to the pit of his stomach and made him flesh tingle with disgust. But he felt nothing like the horror of having to spend the last week with his sister in her town house which resembled the interior of a mental hospital.
As the train clacked along, gently rocking his pelvis in his seat (which, he could only imagine, must have been infested with bacteria), he could feel the little girl's eyes darting over him. Although, when he stole a glance, he deduced that she was older than he'd originally thought. Sixteen, seventeen maybe.
Startled, she averted her eyes to the window, as if she hadn't been staring at him. Tom had to fight off a slightly self-conscious grin as he pretended to scroll through a playlist on his MP3 player.
"Are you a writer?"
Tom blinked, momentarily believing he was having a moment of deliria. It was as though a voice - his own, as a younger boy - from the past had dipped a tentative, intrusive hand into his mind and stirred him up right to the core. He tilted his head to peer from under his hood at the girl. Her glossy hair was pushed messily back from her snowy white face, revealing a slim, porcelain-like neck.
"Yes," he said, searching her glassy blue eyes. She seemed to hear his question before he even opened his mouth to ask it.
"Your fingers," she indicated, nodding towards his loose hands which curled around his MP3 player effortlessly. "They're used to precision. You either write, paint, knit or spend way too much time.... Well, y'know."
A chuckle rolled in the base of Tom's throat; an easy, carefree sound. His mind no longer bent over backwards with repulsive thoughts of infections and viruses, but of this strange girl and what else she could possibly have in that head of hers.