A woman learns a tough lesson after a bad experience in a dark alleyway.
|Older and Wiser
By Kayleigh McMillan
The tube was packed at the best of times, but today was especially busy. The windows were steamed up with the breath of the commuters who were pressed into any available space in the carriage. Sophia gripped a hand rail tightly in her left hand and kept her right shoved firmly in her pocket. She hated this part of her journey; the smell of smoke, food, alcohol, suits – the smell of the people – made her feel sick. Her personal space was being invaded by more than one person and her skin was crawling.
A low voice at her ear growled, ‘I have some important information for you. Meet me in Green Park.’
Sophia span round turned with a start, accidentally nudging an elderly woman in the process. There was no one there.
“Are you alright?” the woman asked.
Sophia muttered an apology and assured her she was fine. She turned back and shut her eyes, knowing that the memory would come flooding back.
Sophia was looking out of the window of the bar into the street. It was dark and the fuzzy amber lights of the street lamps floated in the blackness like lost fireflies. She watched as a man in a charcoal suit stepped off a bus and began to make his way down an alleyway. She absentmindedly followed him with her eyes as he began to fade into the distance. Suddenly, he turned around and locked onto her gaze. Drawing his hand from his pocket he gestured to her. He was beckoning her, asking her to come outside into the alleyway.
She sat in mild shock for a couple of seconds, checking behind her to ensure he was not gesturing to someone else. The bar was practically empty. Her mind began to race as she wondered who he was and what he wanted. Did she know him? It was rather dark and maybe she hadn’t made him out clearly. Sophia began to fidget with her coat and swirled the remainder of her wine in the glass. Eventually, curiosity won over and she knocked back the wine and swung her coat on. Then she dropped a few coins into the tip jar and left.
The air outside was cold. Her nose stung with the chill as she crossed the road to the entrance of the alley. She peered along it but saw nothing. Cautiously she made her way along the alleyway, trying to see where the man had gone.
“Hello? I’ve come to see what you wanted. Are you there?”
No answer. Sophia stopped and listened hard for a reply.
All for a sudden, a huge weight hit her in the side. She was pinned against the wall. The man’s face was so close to hers that she could see the pores on his nose.
“Gimme your purse, lady, or you’ll no’ be leavin’ this alley tonight.”
Sophia couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk, for fear. She managed to whimper pathetically. The man slammed her backwards.
‘Hand. It. Over. ’ he sneered.
He took some of his weight off her and she moved to pull her purse from her pocket. A car went past at the end of the alley and he looked up. Sophia moved quickly. She kicked him in the shins, squirmed out of his slackened grip and ran. The adrenaline rushed to her limbs and she felt a strange ecstasy. She had tossed her purse but she didn’t care – she was away from that horrific man.
But then a force from behind brought her crashing to the ground. The man had recovered and thundered after her. Now he was angrily laying into her with his fists, cursing at her, uttering foul oaths as he hit her. Sophia screamed and briefly struggled. He only hit harder and faster. Then everything went black.
Sophia came back to her senses as the train stopped. It had been ten years since the alleyway. She was older now –wiser too. Pulling herself together, she briskly ran up the station steps. She stepped off the kerb at the entrance and hailed a cab. The driver smiled at her as she climbed in.
“Take me home please, Piccadilly Circus.”