The stranger smiled. Alice smiled back, wondering why he looked familiar. Why he felt familiar.
She forced herself to look away, to stop staring, but she couldn’t stop wondering. There was something about him. She would have said it was the energy he was giving off, if she had believed in such things. But she didn’t.
Instead she made herself concentrate – her stop was coming up and if she missed it, she would be late for work. As she made to press the button that would get the bus to stop where she needed, Alice’s hand brushed the stranger’s ever so slightly, and a jolt of electricity passed up her arm, causing her to gasp and her cheeks to flush in embarrassment.
A thousand thoughts crossed her mind, none of them sensible, so she fixed her eyes on the floor, feeling foolish. She spent the rest of the journey wishing either that she was invisible or that a gaping hole in the floor would open up and throw her under the bus. Neither happened.
When the bus slowed, she made her way down the short aisle before stepping off on to terra firma, but pulled up short to avoid colliding with a pushchair on the path.
A hand on her arm came from behind to steady her, and the pulse of electricity again tingled her skin. For some reason, nerves fluttered like butterflies in the pit of her stomach. What was going on here?
‘I’m so sorry,’ the voice said apologetically as she slowly turned round, wondering what would be the quickest way to end the most uncomfortable, awkward journey to work she could remember. However, the stranger kept on talking. ‘Your name’s Alice, isn’t it? I know you from somewhere,’ he continued, perplexed, ‘but I can’t think where from.’
As Alice looked into his eyes she suddenly saw reflecting back at her how she knew him. Visions of times past flashed before her, visions of her and him, in strange places and wearing even stranger clothes.
‘Jack…?’ she whispered, at once not believing what she knew to be impossible, and yet completely certain that it was the truth.