Reading On The Tram

The Tram Ride, Robert Sawyer (1942)
I leave the house in a hurry, on my way to meet an old friend for lunch at Mario's in Brunswick St (a trip down memory lane). The tram trip is not a long one, about twenty minutes in the middle of a weekday. The tram is almost empty. I choose a window seat and pull out my book, specially selected from the pile-beside-the-bed for its slimness and ease of slipping into my handbag.

The tram sways and creaks down St Georges Rd. I know this route so well, I only need an occasional glance out the window to confirm how far we've come. A man boards, sits down opposite me, and pulls out a book of his own. Instantly I'm drawn to peep at the title, upside down on the top of the page, but it's in scribbly font and impossible to read. Later, when he momentarily closes the cover, I catch a glimpse: The Apothecary's (something). House, maybe? It's a VERY fat book; I would never lug a book like that onto the tram. If I'd wanted to bring a fat book with me, I would have chosen my Agatha Christie 1940s omnibus, because I'm still halfway through Towards Zero.

Perhaps my fellow passenger can see that, in fact, I'm reading a kids' book. I don't care. It's Eight Days of Luke, by Diana Wynne Jones, which I'm reading for next month's book group. Our theme for the next meeting is Tricksters. I've read Luke before, it's a comfortable, fun read, clever and satisfying as all Wynne Jones' books are. I race through the chapters. A tram ride is a bubble in time and space, carefree, without responsibility; nothing to do but read. It feels like a little pocket of luxury.

Before I know it, we're in Brunswick St, and I have to scramble to disembark, thrusting my book back in my bag. I'm ten minutes early. Just enough time for a quick browse... in the bookshop, of course!

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