He sidles up to me on a crowded metro platform,
emerging from a knot of Saturday afternoon shoppers.
It is a warm, sunny day and I’m sitting
dreaming on a plastic tip-up seat.
‘Fancy some sex?’ he says, quite loudly.
I glance up to see who he is talking to and
realise with a sinking heart that it’s me.
‘Pardon?’ I must have misheard. I meet his eye.
He is looking down at me – he can’t be more than 13.
Dark skin, thin, dirty. Dreadlocks which hang,
fuzzy and matted, to his little boy’s waist,
where a silver skull snarls dangerously from
his big boy’s belt.
‘Sex. D’you fancy some?’. His face levels with mine
as he tries to force half his bum on to my seat.
‘Excuse me’. I shove him off. What’s he on? I
look around, embarrassed, but no one reacts.
Either he looks my type or everyone on the
entire platform is deaf.
Did I say embarrassed? Because actually I’m not.
It’s more a trickle of dismay, because he is such a kid.
Because this proposition is not a proposition
and clearly has nothing whatever to do with sex.
It is merely another of those meaningless dialogues,
all too familiar and vaguely threatening, enacted by a nutter.
Only this one isn’t threatening, because this nutter is a child.
And look at me. I’m old enough to be his mother.
In fact I am a mother of three kids not a lot
younger than him. I have a carrier bag (visibly)
full of Pampers at my feet, my make-up has evaporated
and I’m starting a cold. Did he say sex?
‘No thanks,’ I tell him and look away.