On the RER A, heading home. As everyone in cars takes advantage of the empty August roads and gets home early, for those of us who travel underground it's the opposite. August means less trains, less frequencies. August means getting home later than usual.
The woman sat opposite me has an amazing wig on. She's quite beautiful, but I wonder if she hasn't picked up on the fact that the wig looks like it's made from black bin bags, so shiny and plastic-looking it is.
The man next to me has beautiful forearms and chronic body odour. Those arms are like a slice of heaven reaching out from the hell of his mansmell.
Across the aisle there is a middle aged woman, sat on a carrier bag - obviously the seats on public transport are too dirty for her. She's not so germ-averse though. She's been biting the skin on the knuckle of her thumb for the past ten minutes. What's she so nervous about? The germs?
I'm listening to Little boots on the iPod. Stuck on repeat.
I turn her off and reach for my book. The Secret Scripture. Beautiful. I hold my bag on my knee and turn the pages.
The stinking guy next to me gets off at Etoile.
He is replaced by a North African guy. Short, stocky, filling his jeans in a good way. He's with someone - friend? colleague? - and they sit next to me and opposite me, respectively. The black woman with the wig shifts uncomfortably and grips her bag.
The guy next to me smells totally different to the previous occupier of the seat. The smell is pure 1980's. Kouros? Paco Rabanne? Aramis? It's pure 80's and hot to the point of distraction. I fold the page corner and put the book in the bag. I close my eyes and enjoy the trip back in time.
He gets off at Auber and is replaced by a shopgirl. She's about fifty, wearing the trademark black and red of Lafayette. I wonder which department she calls home. Mens socks? Ladies evening wear? Small electrical?
I think about what's lying ahead this week. Drinks with friends. Dinner with others. More friends arriving at the end of the week to spend the weekend together. I have housework to do first. I need to do some grocery shopping. Remember to buy champagne.
The shop worker starts sending text messages, giggling to herself as she does. It makes me think of the messages I got today when I announced online that my day wasn't going so great. I have some calls to make tonight. Friends.
Smiling to myself, I get out my book and open it again where I left off, unfolding the corner as I go.
I read the next line.
"It is always worth itemising happiness, there is so much of the other thing in a life, you had better put down the markers for happiness while you can."
My markers are here. Right here. Right now. I don't mean the train. I don't necessarily mean Paris. I mean in my heart. In my head.
This is the time I will look back on as the time I was happy.
I'm throwing down my markers.