He sat down beside her and she never moved. Not a twitch. Not a blink. As solid as stone, she continued to stare out the window.
As he jostled about, moving his backpack to the floor and squirming about in his seat, his elbow bumped hers.
As if awakened from a dream, her body started as she looked quickly to see who or what had broken her reverie.
She smiled briefly as he apologized with a quick “sorry”. And as he moved a little distance further from her, she maintained her gaze on the young man, as if seeing for the first time. Then her eyes began to scan the subway car until they met mine.
I smiled and nodded, keeping our gaze.
In that moment it was as if nothing and no one else existed. Just two strangers, connected by a gaze unbroken.
I wanted to know her story. I wanted to know why even her smile seemed so forlorn. I wanted to reach out and touch her on the shoulder and tell her all would be all right.
But maybe there was nothing wrong at all. Perhaps she was merely in deep contemplation about a thesis she was writing for university, or the gift she would buy for her sister who was getting married, or the lover she’d just left, despite the fact that she still loved him.
Her seatmate was bundling up his belongings as a readied to exit at the next stop. As he stood I was tempted to move over and sit beside her. But as I moved to stand, she quickly averted her gaze to stare once again out the window.
I felt foolish, thinking that this perfect stranger and I had connected in some way.
In fact, we were merely that…strangers on the train.
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