He’s standing. He could squeeze into a seat, but he doesn’t want to make anyone else uncomfortable, so he stands. He’s reading a book. An actual book. Some days it’s some crime fiction junker, a chick lit novel or a non-fiction book about architecture or filmmaking. Other days it’s Hemingway, Balzac, London or Ginsberg. He reads it all and she notices it. She’s reading on her phone, but she stops to look at what he’s reading. She always checks. Sometimes she’s across from him or next to him or at the other end of the car and some days she walks down a couple cars to try to spot him, but doesn’t find him. But she always checks.
He’s over six foot and well built. His hair is dark and his eyes are green, but she would swear they were blue. It doesn’t really matter, she thinks. She just wants to look at them. Some days she gets to. It’s brief. He looks up from his book and glances around the car. His eyes pass over her and then stop. He smiles gently and shyly then returns to his book. But he’s not really reading right away. He thinks about her shoes or her boots and her jacket and the bracelets she’s wearing. He thinks about her watch or the shade of lipstick she’s chosen today. The fresh highlights in her hair and the color of her eye shadow. He always checks. He spots her when she gets on in Jersey City and he checks. He thinks she’s beautiful. He loves her fashion sense. She carries herself like she’s certain about who she is and what she’s doing and that’s what he admires. He wants someone to admire.
They never get to talk, but some days, when she’s sitting across from him, they notice the ridiculous behavior of other passengers and when she looks at him he’s smirking and rolling his eyes at them and she smiles in agreement. But they never talk. They’re too scared. She’s scared she’ll discover he’s unavailable and it wouldn’t be the same. She’d feel foolish. Stand at the other end of the platform when she boards. He’s scared because it’s been so long since he’s held anyone and he’s worried if he’s forgotten how to love. She could remind me, he thinks. She could awaken that dormant part of me.
He’s reading a new book today. She’s read it. She loved it. It’s her chance. She waits the whole ride, but finally, just before the WTC, she says, “Can you believe Dominique marries Keating?”
He looks up. He thinks her voice is sweet and gentle and he wants to hear it again. His eyes light up and she wishes she had known how to make them that bright before. She wants to see them that bright all the time. “Keating would never allow himself to be truly happy. He doesn’t realize he wants to be just as discontent as she does. “His discontent has only just begun,” she says.
“Don’t tell me, don’t tell me,” he smiles and she laughs. Then there’s an enriched silence that houses the solution to every state of loneliness ever experienced by either of them. They’re too dedicated to the moment, to the fullness of it, to realize how fulfilling such an emptiness can be. But they sense something happening. Something palpable and meaningful that they want to explore more and they want to feel apart of. They want to belong to it. To submit to the fullness of the moment and let it take them where it knows they need to be, where they want to be: next to each other. Their bodies coming together, their lips separated by a vacuum of empty space waiting to be breached and closed forever in some ways. They want to experience a oneness between their bodies and their souls that transcends anything they’ve previously encountered. They want to share a heart and a mind and spirit that basks in the certainty of itself.
“Let’s talk about it when I finish. Over coffee,” he says. She watches the brightness in his eyes and she wants to dive into them.
She smiles and he waits to hear her answer and before she agrees to coffee he thinks about how sweet her voice is and how he’d wait a hundred years just to hear her say one more word.
Her Two Cents
They want to share a heart and a mind and spirit
She watches the brightness in his eyes
he’d wait a hundred years
“Don’t tell me, don’t tell me”
His eyes pass over her and then stop
discontent has only just begun