A Commuters Past

Every day, at exactly 7:48 am, I take the underground.  My routine remained the same and rarely deviated. With earbuds in place, a book in my lap, and a coffee in hand, I shut out the crowded trolley car around me and delved into the story. Growing up, I was never one to vary from routine. I hated surprises and I found that any digression from a timed norm would send me into an immediate frenzy of anxiety. Today, things are no different. I was prepped for my workday and ready to begin my commute. Stepping onto the platform, I entered the car and sat down on a nearby seat. Placing my bag next to me, I met the eyes of the man seated across.  It was a familiar face, one in which I have not looked in years. Mapping his face, I knew exactly who he was.  It was the expression that had haunted me many of nights in my teens. With a held eye contact the memories flooded back.

Cheeks stained with cold tears as I plead with him in the cobblestone alley. It was a cold summer, and we were both not dressed for the night. The moon overhead, the alley was empty. Raised voices and injured hearts, I begged him not to leave.  Grasping his hand, I urged him to find out the truth, and not break what we had established. With disgust in his voice, he pulled away and left me alone on the cobblestone.

I quickly looked away. After all these years, he still had control over me.

I must hand it to him, he did look great, he finally got the disheveled look down pat.  In all my years taking the underground, this was definitely not the first time I ran into someone on the subway.  The metro has a way of bringing people together… A reuniting front that shows itself as public transportation.

I felt as if the world was continuing yet I was at a standstill. Stops were called, people exited and boarded, yet I felt as if we were alone. I was no longer the sad sixteen-year-old that he once knew, for I was bigger than that, and so was he.  He was no longer the skinny boy that would cry when faulted, he held austere and serious look and lost his softness. Absent minded commuters enthralled in their mobiles, oblivious to the reunion around them. Distracting myself, I began to pick at the dead skin on my thumb. I met his eyes once more.

I’ll always remember the night we met.

My hair was curly, pushed up with product and bouncing carefully on my head.  As the beat progressed, a foreign curl fell over my eye, yet I did not brush it off.  My hands were up, and my body moved to the rhythm.  I threw my head backward and laughed, It was a new sense of freedom found in the music, a sense of euphoria experienced through the bass and the mess of sweaty bodies. He always bore an other-lordly presence, for you could be in a crowded room yet feel utterly alone when with him.  I caught his eyes from across the way.  With his back against the wall, he stared at me, breaking down my body, scanning the mass of bone, muscle, and flesh. His hair was expertly parted and his clothes were paired in a un-ironic disorder. He kept my gaze and walked over to me. His hand caught my waist and he pulled me closer. We were not alone, but my god I could have sworn we were. I smelled his cologne, Chanel. He was not gorgeous, nor was I, but he was my own perfection. Putting a hand to my face, he brushed away the stray hair.

“Glencairn, Glencairn station”. The loudspeaker beams overhead.  Breaking eye contact he tried to remain aimlessly busy, toying with his rucksack.

The doors opened and he got up and walked away, leaving me once again. The fact was this: people don’t change, they become stealthier at hiding their true selves. A cloak of decadent and distracting colors if you will. No matter how much he stated a change or modified his appearance, he still wears the lies and wounds etched into his skin.

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