The growth of a crush on a daily commute.
I see him every day at the same time, on the same train. At first, it was one-sided, but once he noticed me, he couldn’t look away. The first time he saw me, he actually missed his stop and had to backtrack four stations, he was probably late.
Sometimes I can’t see him because the train is too crowded, and no matter how hard I look, everyone else just gets in my way. But I can almost feel him looking for me.
We haven’t said a word to each other, we communicate just with our expressions. Sometimes I can see he’s sad and avoiding my eyes, but even when he doesn’t want to look at me, he comes on the same train to let me know he still cares. Sometimes I don’t look for him, but when I see him anxiously looking around for me, I feel guilty yet happy.
He’s the only one who knows I’m there, everyone else doesn’t see me. Maybe they can’t. Those 23 minutes are the brightest of my day, because despite how packed the train becomes, it’s like there’s no one else but us, and we learn more about each other every day.
When he gets off the train I’m invisible again, and people look through me instead of at me. The landscape doesn’t change, the blurs are all the same, and I find myself wishing to be tomorrow morning. But time only flies during those 23 minutes, otherwise it’s twice as slow.
One day, he came up to me really close – closer than any time before. I lost track of time a long time ago, so I don’t know if we’d been seeing each other for a month or a year. I looked at his face closely; he’d matured some, became more handsome. I glanced at the opposite windows and frowned at my pale reflection.
I hadn’t changed at all.
The announcement for his station brought me back to him, and I saw his imploring eyes. He pointed at me, at himself and then at the doors. He saw the surprise on my face and darkened quickly. I tried to get his attention again, but he stubbornly avoided me until he leaped off the train.
I anxiously paced up and down the car. What if he didn’t come back tomorrow? What if he didn’t come back ever?
But he came back, and I smiled at him timidly. He approached me again, although somewhat guarded. Again, he pointed to the door, and I shook my head slowly. I saw him sigh. Before he could turn away, I grabbed his attention with a quick wave and showed him how much I’d love to follow him off the train.
I pounded both fists on the door’s glass. They didn’t budge. I tried to make him understand how special he was to me by showing him nobody else could see me. He gave me a sad smile and placed his palm on the door. I placed mine against his, but could only feel the cold glass.
A few days went by before he came with a bright smile and a pocket sized mirror. I looked at him in confusion. He seemed so pleased with himself for his brilliant idea he started ignoring what other people thought of him. He pointed at me, then at the mirror with a smile as bright as sunshine.
I understood his intention, but not how it would ever work. It seems he didn’t either. I could see he was quickly losing patience, not to mention time as his station was fast approaching. He punched the glass in frustration and stomped off the train, followed by many offended glares.
I couldn’t find him for the next two days, but just when I was about to despair the third day, he slipped on the train at the last minute. He seemed different with his hunched shoulders and hanging head. He looked at me from across the car, over the other people. His eyes were sad and distant.
No matter how I tried to grab his attention or make him smile, he just looked at me with those same eyes. I started hitting the window facing him, above the sleeping business man. He barely blinked. His station came and went, yet he didn’t move. He rode to the terminus, still staring at me with those strange eyes.
He got off the train last. I saw him check the schedule overhead then he disappeared from my sight. I ran up and down the car again, trying to get a better angle, but there were a lot of stupid blind spots that made this difficult. The train filled up with people again, and I heard the departure announcement.
The train started, and I caught a glimpse of a familiar figure on the blocked off end of the platform. I ran to the first car, keeping my eyes fixed on the figure staring straight at me. I made it to the conductor’s window just as he jumped, one hand clutching his mirror, the other a fist he rammed through my stomach.
As the window shattered, the conductor pulled the emergency stop. I glanced back as people tumbled to the floor amidst their screams and the deafening shriek of the train grounding to a halt. I quickly refocused my attention to the immobile body half hidden beneath the train. People came onto the rails to help, but I just knew…
His hand still clutched the mirror strongly, and even though I tried with all my might to push myself out of that hole he made for me, I couldn’t extricate myself from the inside of the window. I closed my eyes and turned around, not wanting my last image of him to be this mess.
The next few weeks passed slowly, listlessly. I hadn’t moved from the conductor’s window, even after they fixed the window. A particularly sunny day, a shimmer caught my eye, so I turned to see what it was.
A smiling face greeted me. He was sitting in the adjacent train’s conductor window, beaming radiantly. He waved with one hand, then pointed to the other and revealed his mirror. He’d used it to catch the sun to get my attention.
I smiled at him.
Every day, we run to opposite ends of our trains to see each other, and every night when the trains are sleeping is when we really come alive.