She usually did not stay past 5:30 at work on a Monday, but the emails dinged all day, her calendar was full of meetings, and there was just too much she had to finish before leaving the office. Hurrying to beat the evening rush was a fruitless endeavor when she saw the crowd waiting at the Downtown & Brooklyn platform. That meant trains were backed up somewhere uptown and so she plugged in her headphones, turned up the iPod, and waited for the next express train to take her swiftly (har-har) home.
The local train came and left but she waited it out because it was easier to hop on the express and not have to deal with the fiasco that was transferring trains during rush hour on New York City public transportation.
“A train is now arriving at the Downtown express track. Please step away from the platform”.
At last! The surge of commuters crowded the train doors. She never understood why people always hovered near the train doors when they had to let people off the train first. And by the looks of the car in front of her, there were a heck of a crowd coming out.
She let all the anxious commuters on first and finally stepped into the car. Not even bothering to look for a seat, she conceded to a step to the left where there was an empty spot at the pole. All she needed was support and she was game! She hurried and grabbed the pole as the train lurched to a start. Balance came easily, her purse weighing her right side and the pole steadying her left. It took a minute for her to breathe and collect her thoughts and zone out. Her iPod was still playing, the sounds of guitar and drums pounding in her ears.
That’s when she felt it. Or rather, him.
Was it because he was standing too close? It couldn’t be. People were in her comfort zone all the time. You couldn’t avoid it as a commuter in Manhattan. The train continued its steady descent towards the center of the city and she looked past his shoulder, trying to rationalize the erratic thoughts in her head. The feeling didn’t go away. It was pulsing electricity. She was sure of it. Electricity needs a positive and negative charge right? Was one sided electricity even a thing?! She came up barely to his shoulder and she tried to simply look past his shoulder at the dark underground so there would not be any chance for awkward eye contact. Well, she kind of wished there was some awkward eye contact so there was confirmation on whether she was crazy or what.
A seat opened up and she hurried to take it. Breathe and collect yourself. An open seat was next to her, but he stayed standing.
Next stop was Times Square and the bustling crowd once again filled her subway car. He moved from the pole to the overhead support right above her head. Now he was again a little too close for comfort and she awkwardly looked forward. Was she crazy or what? He could have moved to a number of spots and he chose the one right in front of her. Something was pulling them towards one another.
Breathe girl. You’re blowing this situation out of proportions. You’re just a girl going home from work. And he? He’s just another random guy in this city.
She couldn’t help but notice that he was different from the usual train dweller though. No earbuds in. No book or Kindle out. He had a phone; she definitely saw an outline of one in the pocket of his pants. But he didn’t take it out once, not even to check the time. He had a watch for that purpose. She chuckled internally. Watches were always a win. And shoes too, and his shoes were stylin’.
Three more stops until she had to get off. He had shifted a ways from her, the train car even more crowded. Usually it became less crowded further downtown they went, but today was different.
Then, she thought of it. He was different because his demeanor was patient. He possessed a steady and calm aura, unfazed by the collective anxiety emitting from the crowd.
His was the positive charge to her negative charge.
Just as this thought crossed her mind, the train stopped at Broadway-Lafayette and he was gone. It was an unexpected departure. Her guess had been Brooklyn, but Soho? He looked better than that. He hadn’t shown signs of getting ready to leave before that, but when the doors opened; he was gone and away, lost in the crowd.
Zap and the electricity fizzled to a stop.
And she was just another girl going home.
A note from the author: this was my attempt at a short story to articulate a personal snapshot. Word on the Street is a blog column that aims to “echo the rawness found on the street, showcasing the real in the day to day”. Among other things. That’s the shortened version. Also, apologies for not updating sooner. I have plenty of content, but not enough time to put my thoughts together into posts for public viewing. Keep your eyes peeled though, they’ll come eventually.