It was half past eleven. The carriage had thinned out steadily during the course of the ride (as it always did late at night) so by Colindale we were on our own. There were five or six people in the next carriage, visible through the windows between sections, but in the first part of the train it was just us. We were unspeaking and impassive - another part of the machine, whirring efficiently home.
Alex resented the long journey; she always did. She couldn't understand how I was happy living so far out, 'away from the action', as she liked to put it. But once or twice a week I could still entice her back, particularly in a crisis, when there were 'issues' to discuss and she needed to keep me sweet to get me to talk.
It was a trick. We'd have sex in my bed, but I'd never let us talk.
On this night, one of many identical nights, we had sat in silence most of the way from Leicester Square, unwilling to speak at all because if we spoke we would have to speak about Carla and neither of us wanted to speak about Carla. At least I didn't, and I assumed she felt the same.
If in doubt, I always like to assume people feel the same as me, that my thoughts and actions are somehow humanly inevitable, leave me blameless. I like to imagine that you, or anyone else, would think or do the same in my situation. It is not a trait that has served me well.
Alex had her big brown bag on her lap that night, as she always did, the zip leaning in towards her stomach, her arms crossed across the top, hanging loosely, inelegantly and, it seemed, uncomfortably over the edge. Her hands were flopped lethargically forward. I was watching in the window opposite of course, monitoring without letting her know I was looking, without doing anything at all which might have been construed as inviting conversation. I was barely thinking myself, just lazily aware that everything was as it always was: shit, but not quite shit enough for decisive action.