BY LIZ McADAMS
Originally published by Sick Lit in 2017. Copyright is held by the author.
SHE SAW he saw him passing by, a fleeting glance between strangers and then it was gone. Disappeared into the crush of the train station.
She tucked her novel into her shoulder bag, and boarded her train.
And spent her day wondering on that moment of connection. Eyes meeting over the heads of strangers and through the crowds, he didn’t smile at her, not like the usual fellows she’d meet. Those were the dull lads of evenings spent in noisy pubs and sports bars, and awkward conversation followed by even more awkward advances. Perhaps a sloppy kiss to end it all.
This was different.
He startled, and seemed to recognize her in some way, although she was convinced she’d never seen him before, he himself felt familiar. Like someone she’d known, as though recognizing an old friend.
She started to arrive to the train station early, nearly half an hour before her train was due, and would sit, open novel on her lap, and waiting for him.
Sometimes she’d catch a glimpse of him through the crowds as he headed toward the opposite platform, and his head would turn toward her, meeting her gaze for just a moment, and then he’d disappear.
Some days she didn’t see him at all.
She began to make up stories about him, in her own mind of course. He was a new professor at the college. Or an intern at a magazine. Maybe he worked nights somewhere, and was making his way home from work. He never dressed with the spit and polish of the business set, and she found something about his frayed sweaters and worn jeans truly endearing.
As days passed by, they fell into a routine. Arriving early to the station, she’d seat herself on a bench across from the platform he usually boarded at. And, as he passed through the station, he seemed to look for her, glancing over in her direction, and smiling at his own foolishness.
Their eyes would meet, and a moment of connection hung between them. An understanding between strangers, and beyond words. He’d smile shyly. Sometimes she’d glance away, and then look up and find him staring at her. At boarding call he’d turn to go.
She told herself she was making it up. A half-look between strangers, and filled with fancy.
But it was the realness of that glance that kept her coming back. He knew something about her, understood her in some way that nobody else did.
One day after holding his gaze above the crowd, and he’d turned to follow the demands of the boarding call, she watched as he climbed the stairs to his platform, and then stopped halfway up. Shaking his head, he turned on the staircase and headed back down. His eyes met hers above the crowd, and then, as he descended to the floor, he was lost in the crush.
She stood up, suddenly panicked.
As he made his way across the station toward her she knew how things would unfold. Shy greetings, and awkward conversation. Then later, even more awkward advances, perhaps a sloppy kiss.
She caught a glimpse of his face as he headed through the crowd. He smiled at her, that moment of connection stretched between them.
And turning away, she bolted up to the station platform behind her, and disappeared into the crowd.