His train pulled into the station and stopped next to the south-bound train, which felt so close he thought he could reach out and touch it, if the windows weren’t sealed.
In the window of the other train, a seat ahead of him, was a girl. Not just any girl - the perfect girl. She was touching up her makeup, although she looked great as she was. She brushed her hair back and glanced at him, smiling briefly as if it was a secret she didn’t want anyone else to know.
That smile took him back to 8th grade and Kelly Ann Siminski. Kelly Ann was the most beautiful girl he had ever known and was the first girl he had kissed. Then his family moved suddenly and he never saw her again. He still had an empty spot in his heart for her.
He glanced at the girl again, and she was looking at her phone. She could be the one, he thought. She looked up again and smiled, more real this time, and he was committed, Then, with a jerk, her train started out of the station, leaving him looking at the blue and white tiles stained with dark streaks where she had been a moment ago.
The lights seemed to dim slightly, and he thought about the reality that he would never see her again. He thought about his options – riding the same train every day hoping he will see her again, riding the south-bound train hoping she will get on, or standing on the platform waiting to find her on a train. And then what? Introduce himself saying, “Hi, I’m the guy from the other train the other day…?”
And what if she hadn’t noticed him? What if she was just looking in the window to see her reflection so she could check her make-up? What if she was dreaming about getting back to her large, well-endowed boyfriend?
He was always able to talk himself out of something good, and this was no different. He could think of a hundred reasons to just forget about her and go into the city. But that smile … it pulled him off the train at the next station and led him across the platform to wait for the next south-bound train.
But what if she is doing the same thing. Would they whiz past each other at 80 miles per hour, not able to even make out each other’s faces? And what would she do when he wasn’t there? What will he do if she isn’t there – go back to normal, thinking about her less and less frequently until she was just an occasional disappointment alongside Kelly Ann?
How crazy was he any way, riding the train to nowhere in search of a fantasy girl? When this is over, he resolved, he was going to stop chasing his daydreams. There is no perfect woman out there. It’s just what people say to help their friends accept being lonely. He is going to find a nice girl and settle like most of his friends.
The next station came up and despite how unlikely it was that she would be there, he scanned the platform looking for her face, surprised that his image of her seemed to be fading already. What does that mean? Was she just a mirage, a thought that will be gone soon and never return?
As the train pulled away from the station, his sense of impending doom started to rise. These adventures he set off on never worked out. He always seemed to be chasing something that wasn’t there - waiting for that special thing to pop up in his life that never did.
He could see the next station approaching – her station; their station. He strained to see her, but each outline resolved into someone else. It was too late for her to get off here, he told himself, but she could be waiting at the next station.
Not the station after that, or the next one. Then he was at the main station, where she could have changed trains and gone anywhere. He got off the train and looked around the huge terminal, not really expecting to see her, and not completely disappointed he didn’t. He wasn’t prepared to talk with her. His fantasy had skipped over that step and went straight to their future together.
He sat down on a bench and set his backpack next to him, even though the terminal was busy. He didn’t want to deal with anyone else right now.
“Mind if I sit here?” said a voice rather matter-of-factly.
“Sorry, I’m saving it for someone,” he grumbled, without looking up.
“How do you know it’s not me?” There was something about the voice that caused him to look up. His heart almost stopped … it was her.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said, “I’d hoped you would decide to come. It’s silly, but that one moment on the train and I knew you were someone special.”
“M…me…too,” he squeaked out. “Are you real?”
“Are you?” she asked, playfully.
“Yes, but you’re perfect.” He said, wishing he hadn’t sounded so awestruck.
“And you’re not?” she replied.
“No, I’m screwed up enough to chase some girl I never met through the train system.”
“But, you found her,” she said. “So now what are you going to do?
“I didn’t think that far ahead,” he admitted. “Do you want to get some coffee?”
“I hate coffee!” she said. “But I know a place where they have twenty different types of tea.”
“Lead on,” he said, picking up his backpack and following her through the station toward their destiny.
They found his body in time to make the evening news. Detectives said he had a strange, satisfied smile that seemed out of place on the twisted body.
They never found his killer.