Rush Hour
by Ava Lindt
436 words (3 minutes)

(Nina, a shy secretary in her late twenties to mid thirties, working at a law office in the heart of New York. She lives in a Newark, NJ one-bedroom condo with a cat named Archimedes and lots of books. She suffers from eternally stiff shoulders, wants to go to Paris, eats Ben and Jerry's ice cream with a fork. She wears a tailored outfit, pulled back hair. She has been eyeing a man on the train who she thinks she belongs with because she saw him reading her favorite book: Still Life with Woodpecker. He's older, established, stony faced most of the time. )

The first time you got on my train, you sat two seats ahead of me. You just sat there, typing away on your little laptop, completely oblivious to the world. And I sat there, studying your baldspot, the slump of your shoulders, wondering what it would feel like to press my thumbs into your back and release all of your knots, there and there and there. I wondered if you were married. What the first thing she said to you when you came home at night. I wondered what you were typing. Maybe you were writing your first novel, or a journal about the trials and tribulations of being a paralegal. Heh.

The next time you got on the train, it was so full that you were standing. And every stop you would get closer and closer to me until I could feel your scratchy polyester suit against my cheek. When the train lurched, I lurched along with it, and into your hips. hoping that there was flesh there and not bone. Those suits you wear. They hide so much.

And then you weren't on the train, for seven days in a row. And it seemed like an eternity, that commute. I felt so bored without you there. I had to make up stories about the vacation you went on in the Bahamas. Or how your wife got so ill that you were there at her bedside, bringing her chicken soup and rubbing Vicks Vapo-rub on her chest so that she could cough up some more mucous into the fresh tissues you brought her. And then your daughter would come home and the three of you would sit in bed and read about pirate ships, because that's what she was studying in school.

But yesterday, day eight, you appeared and you were sitting directly across from me and I was wearing the ugliest gray suit I own because I had forgotten to do laundry. And I kept looking at you trying to get your attention because you were reading Still Life with Woodpecker, my favorite book. And once in a while you would close your eyes and open your mouth and I could see your tongue. You looked so sweet that way. And then other times when you were reading you would get this smirk on your face, and I wanted to say something really clever, I had something in mind. I know those characters by heart. But people, they don't really talk to each other on trains, especially at rush hour. I never found the right moment. And then you got off at Bell Harbor and I haven't seen you since.