These are not the words a boyfriend wants to hear as he arrive at Rome’s Termini train station, an hour before their bus is due to leave for the airport.

My bags clattered to the floor as I sighed in disbelief. Hours of careful planning to get to the airport on time were disintegrating in front of my eyes.

“You for real?” I asked her.

The big beautiful eyes welled with tears, and I knew this was no joke.

“Well, we’ll just have to get you another one when we’re home,” I smiled hopefully.

A minute later I was burying back into the mass of people on the crowded Rome underground.

The Indiana Jones theme music filled my head as I dived through the closing metro train doors. I turned around, my eyebrow cocked, and swaggered up the carriage. Nobody was looking.

More and more people got on the train with each stop. Soon it was full to bursting and I had a sodden armpit thrust into my face. The armpit’s owner; a broad, hairy man with broken brown teeth, leered at me. I turned around from him as he hacked a cough in my face.

There was no room to move as the press of people became more and more suffocating. Three musicians had got on with an assortment of instruments, which ranged from bulky to unnecessarily large. They began striking up a merry tune. Hot, blank faces stared back at them grimly.

I looked down at my feet. A small child with a mop of blonde hair was being sick on them.

His mother held his hair back out of his face and stared up at me, with a look on her face that suggested that this was one of the most natural things in the world. Vomit chunks spewed onto my chest in a volcanic wave.

Gagging, I left the metro at the next station and began running towards our hotel. I tore off my soiled shirt and threw it in a bin. The rain poured, although that provided some small relief as my shoes were slowly turning from red to pink.

Time was not on my side, the hotel was a good 20 minute walk from the St Peters Square, and the square a good 5 minute walk from the station. I slalomed through crowds of tourists and the snatching fingers of beggars and tour guides. I crashed through a gaggle of nuns like a bowling ball striking down ten pins.

Finally I arrived at the hotel. I swivelled through the revolving door and saw the hotelier staring at me in surprise. I realised how I must look, topless, hair slick with rainwater and sweat, which was slowly pooling around my vomit-sodden trainers. The red and grey slop trickled towards him like magma. He tutted at me and twisted a mop firmly onto the floor.

“Phone!” I gasped incomprehensibly. “We left a phone behind. Please...”

The manager shook his head. “No phone was left here sir,” he replied firmly, before shooing me back through the revolving door with his mop.

I began the long and painful journey back to my girlfriend, dreading telling her that her prize possession was lost forever. The return journey was relatively uneventful, until I got back to her and found her talking on the phone. Her phone.

She looked at me strangely as my half naked body shuddered in exasperation and exhaustion.

“Put some clothes on David you’re embarrassing me,” she said calmly. “Oh, and I found my phone by the way. It was in my pocket.”

D Lowe

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