28 March 2005

the subway

10am. The girl stares blankly outside the train's windows, watching as a blur of fluorescent lights and dark tunnels rush past. Beside her, a man, almost the same age as she, is indifferent to the world as he scribbles on a large notebook on his lap.

The train stops abruptly, and he drops his pen on the floor. The clatter draws her from her oblivion. As he stoops to pick his pen up, she catches a glimpse of the pages of his notebook. Sketches fill the page, colorful and yet darkly haunting.

She is strangely drawn to this man's work. "Those are really good," she blurts out, unable to contain herself. "You're an artist?"

The stranger looks up, surprised. "Erm… yeah, just as a hobby." He hesitates for a bit. "I've done these other stuff, too," he adds shyly, flipping through the pages of his notebook. She peruses the sketches, each one painstakingly drawn using ballpoint pens.

"Do you draw?" he suddenly asks.

"Oh-- oh, no." It's her turn to be surprised. "I don't. I mean, I can't draw," she stutters. "I wish I could, but I can't."

He smiles at her.

She smiles back.

They lapse into silence, and once again the stranger turns to his work. She turns back to the dark windows, occasionally stealing glances as the stranger weaves magic across the page.

Later. The subway train slows down as it approaches the next stop. "Well... this is my stop," she tells the stranger as she gathers up her things.

"Mine too," he replies, following her to the train's doors. She fidgets with the strap of her bag uncomfortably as they wait for the doors to open. The seconds tick by like an eternity.

"Thank you," he suddenly whispers to her as the doors swoosh open.

She shrugs and smiles at him as she steps out onto the platform.

"No, really," he adds, following her. "It's just that… no one's ever told me that before."

She's surprised by the honesty in the stranger's voice. "You're welcome," she replies softly. She begins walking towards her exit as the stranger turns away.

"Hey," the stranger calls again, almost as an afterthought. He touches her shoulder lightly with his hand.

She turns, and finds herself staring into his soulful gray eyes.

He opens his mouth to say something, but hesitates. "I… erm… do you know which way goes up to Sheppard?"

She looks down, trying to hide her disappointment. "I don't know," she replies. "I'm not from around here." She couldn't understand why she felt that way. She didn't know what she was expecting, but his eyes seemed to tell her more than what he was saying.

"Oh." He stays rooted to his spot, biting his lower lip as he tries to think of something else to say.

They stare at each other then, words failing them.

And in that moment, they made a connection.

But she looks away, because she believes that moments like these could not possibly happen. Because magic only happens in stories, and never in real life. "I have to run," she whispers, turning away.

And she walks away from the man that could have made her believe in magic.