Today’s inspiration is a brief but important scene of anonymous observation in a recent story from Not Quite A Cougar.
The third afternoon, that was when I knew for sure. Across the tracks, she on the outbound train as I sat on the inbound. That first time hers was a face in a crowd — a distinctive one for sure, a rose bush in a field of dandelions, but I’ve seen plenty of roses in my day. Perhaps my eyes were inspired the next day, hoping to find that bush again, and when they found her face again I’d instictively looked away, embarassed for no particular reason; yet I caught a smile blooming on her countenance, both trains shuffling in opposite directions before I could confirm.
Yesterday, the third day. Tell my boss I can’t stay late today, would coming in early tomorrow to finish that report by OK? Sure. Middle car of seven, one of three vacant window seats on the interior side. Train pulls into the station at the usual time, the outbound stationary across the oily brown tracks. Doors open, passengers shuffle out, others come in. Potential weakness to my strategy, can’t see all the way to the front, but the train’s packed, have to make do, start scanning halfway up the front car. No, no, no — second car, no no no no no no — third of four cars directly across from mine — no no —
And then she’s looking right at me. Smiling. And then she, just as the other train begins to move and I hear the doors in my car close, in a move that cannot be mistaken for anything else, waves. At me, who remains motionless as our trains continue their journeys in opposite directions.