Contributor: Hannah Garrard

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I followed the woman’s head nodding forward as she teetered on the brink of sleep. Her hair fell about her face and her jaw slackened. On her lap she clutched a designer handbag and a cake in a box with a clear lid, through which I could just make out some birthday text amongst the whipped cream.

That cake won’t make it home in one piece, I said to myself. I was suddenly struck by a stab of Schadenfreude, triggered perhaps by the expensive handbag.

It wasn’t difficult to spot the haircut to my left, because it belonged to a man a clear head above the rest of the crowd- squashed against the doors of the rumbling carriage. But the haircut was just the beginning: Armani sunglasses flashed reflected neon as the train sped past LED advertisements. I surreptitiously followed the angular lines which began at his crown and led to his muscular body, scantily clad in black mesh. Next, came white Lycra leggings that had every intention of turning strangers crimson. Finally, at the bottom amongst a mob of scuffed loafers, stood luminous green sling-back trainers. He looked amazing, like a futuristic Mardi Gras. I looked down at my own white t-shirt, splattered orange with ramyen from that day’s lunch.

The designer handbag emptied itself onto the floor of the carriage, followed by the cream cake. The woman woke up with a jolt and Happy Birthday was ruined.

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Hannah is from the UK but now lives in South Korea amongst the neon signage. From her apartment she can see the ocean, and a rusty cruise ship that makes tired laps around the peninsular. You can follow her travels and her writing at:
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