Black sheep by David Whitehouse


The sky is newborn pink. The commuter train comes to a halt in the halo of countryside around the city. It is packed with a puzzle of people. Their breath makes misty blooms on the glass. A groan drowns out the Tannoy. I don’t groan. I carry on eating my breakfast. This is the exact moment I realise I am not like everybody else.

The man in seat 5B has his legs wide open. The cheap polyester trousers creakily embrace his balls. He sends an email that won’t wait.

The woman in seat 7A has noticed his balls. Her lips pucker, as if she can taste them. She sends a message to her boss to warn him that she’ll be two minutes late.

A man is pretending that he hasn’t seen a woman less than a metre away from him. They work in the same building. He stares at the luggage rack.

All four of the people at the table by his legs won’t get home before their children go to sleep. They make up for it at weekends with trips to the farmer’s market to buy vegetables, some of which form part of the delicious lunch they prepared for themselves while the moon was still high, a monocle on a one-eyed God.

A woman can’t read the small print in her free magazine. The man next to her waited in for a plumber all of yesterday. All of these people are the same. They are going to work.

This is the exact moment I realise I am not like them, nor do I want to be. I am standing in a field chewing grass, looking at the brown maggoty wool around Colin’s rear end, waiting for the train to move on and leave me to my breakfast in peace.

Bed by David Whitehouse is out now