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Encounter On The Penrith Express

Sam watched the guy trying to figure out what the final scrambled word was on his iPhone. He was immersed, and so was Sam. So immersed, in fact, that they both seemed to forget the minor pain of standing up on a crowded train. The guy wore a red, blue and white business shirt, tight enough to showcase his swimmers body. His eyes were sky blue and his jaw could chisel hearts. The guy managed to get ‘ten’, ‘tin’, ‘tent’, and ‘tint’, but the last word was a challenge. He swiped through the letters: Tenint. Nope. Tentin. Uh uh. Tennit. Try again.

“It’s intent,” said Sam. The guy looked up, his perfectly curved eyebrows raised a little. Sam couldn’t believe he opened his mouth. What if he hated gays?

“Huh?”

Sam pointed at the guy’s phone — almost hesitantly — and repeated, “i-it’s intent.”

The guy looked down at it, eyebrows scrunched, and then he finally understood. He swiped in the correct order: Intent. Correct!

“Thanks, mate,” he said, smiling. Sam’s heart skipped a beat as it picked up speed. The crowd of people around them were still sunken in their own worlds, sliding through social media or listening to music played through headphones and earbuds. Here in the vestibule, however, Sam and the guy in front of him were the only ones present. Almost as if they were resisting social custom. And while his heart raced, Sam pressed on, because this guy was also quite nice.

“That’s cool,” said Sam, smiling back. “I used to play that game.” Well, probably not ‘used to’, as that game was never on his phone to begin with. But he was good at unscrambling words in the newspaper.

“I only play it to pass the time,” the guy said. He exited the game on his phone and Sam saw Grindr on the home screen. At least now he knows this guy was on his side of the fence.

“Are you heading home from work?” the guy asked. Sam never anticipated the guy to take over the conversation, but it was quite relieving.

“No, I’m heading to uni. Got an evening class,” said Sam.

“That sounds enthralling,” the guy said, playfully.

A voice spoke through the overhead speakers, possibly claiming the next stop as the train slowed. Sam was too intrigued to listen. They smiled at each other. And then the guy pocketed his phone and held out his hand.

“I’m Cameron,” he said.

Sam shook his hand and gave up his own name.

“Nice to meet you, Sam.”

Wanna swap numbers? is what Sam wanted to say, but he hesitated. He was mesmerised by Cameron’s sky blue eyes. His kindness. His charm. He really liked him. So, he breathed in, ready to ask the big question, and then Cameron picked up his briefcase as the train doors opened.

“This is my stop. I’ll see you around,” Cameron said. And just like that, he was lost among the tide of people.

Sam sighed and frowned. What a missed opportunity.

And after the new passengers found their standing spot, he watched the doors close.

And then he realised he should have exited the train with Cameron. Because it was his stop too.

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Setting the record straight on sexuality and being your most authentic self.

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