I try to ignore the irritation unsuccessfully, but my attention is once more dragged from my work to the sulky girl opposite. She snaps the gum back into her mouth and smiles at me sullenly, her mouth gaping like a fish while her teeth audibly - and visibly - clash together.The side of the train windowsill beside her is marred by a saliva-oozing gob of pink material, which was obviously not to her taste. I look away, trying not to be rude, when another grotesque green bubble is blown and snapped. She has been doing this for an hour, and I have grown tired of being polite.

I look up as her eyes grow wide and she starts to choke. She lurches forward, hands to her face and tries to throw up. I catch a glimpse of something green and moving at the back of her mouth, and wonder what it must feel like to have the gum she was so innocently chewing grow thick furry legs and try to force its pulpy body down her throat. She is on the floor now, fingers in her mouth, trying to claw the obstruction out. The floor beneath her is stained with tears and clear liquid from futile retchings, as it works its way further into her mouth to avoid the reaching fingers.A bloodstained green limb pushes from a nostril and waves breifly in the air, before recoiling as she flails at it. All her efforts to dislodge it have merely pushed it into looking for new places to go.

I reach across and hit her sharply on the back, and finally, gratefully, she heaves a lump of chewed green matter onto the floor. As she pushes herself shakily off the floor, and the train puls into the station, she realises it is her stop. Quickly, she grabs her things and opens the door to leave. My smile, as the door closes, is slightly pained. I doubt she will chew gum again far less pop it but I wish that, on leaving, she hadn't stuck the green gum on the window sill.
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