Montauk

montaukAnd there she stood by the platform edge. The tips of her dainty shoes barely touching the yellow line you weren’t allowed to cross. She looked down and smiled that mischievous smile. I stayed behind. She moved closer to the edge. The guard whistled. She stepped back with a satisfied grin. The train arrived and we got on.

There was one seat left. I was about to offer it to her but someone was quick to do the same. A good-looking fellow dressed sharply in his coat and tie. He offered the seat with a firm yet pleasant gesture that said “he wouldn’t take no for answer.” He was a real gentleman. “No thanks,” she said. The man was puzzled. He stood silent for a while until she did this little curtsy and presented him the seat. He was taken aback as she smiled that mischievous smile. He sat down still bewildered by it all. I snickered to myself. She heard me. I stole a quick glance. She was looking at me. She snickered along. I turned to her. We both laughed then fell silent in the afterglow.

I looked outside the window. The snow poured. It was getting colder. My body turned numb. My arm dangled on uncertain of what it was supposed to do. It swung ever so slightly towards her. My hand inching closer and closer to hers; looking for warmth. I dared to look down. Casually. As subtly as possible. Her hand stayed perfectly still, steady amidst the train’s rocky movements. I pulled my hand back a bit and looked back up. She was staring down at my hand. I quickly tucked it my jacket’s pocket. Pretending nothing happened as I fixed my eyes on the window and focused on the falling snow. It fogged up the glass; I couldn’t see a thing. I waited with bated breath for the moment to pass. A thousands thoughts raced through my head, scolding me for my foolishness. Reminding me of the reality of things. And how the world works. That if it’s meant to be it will happen. I stood in the awkwardness of it all for a while. It was torture. I shouldn’t have done that…That was stupid…This isn’t the place or time…Then again…maybe…Just maybe…I stole another glance. More carefully this time. She was looking out the fogged-up window. Her cheeks blushed. She smiled. Maybe it was the cold…Yeah, it was the cold that coloured her cheeks. It must be. What else could it be? Yes it was the cold; I hardened my resolve.

The train went on. And the snow kept pouring. We passed by several stops and I was nearing mine. My time was running out. For what exactly? I didn’t know. For something worthwhile, I guess. Another stop. The cold rushed in every time. I had both hands in my pockets now. Sinking deeper and deeper into the warm pouches. If it’s meant to happen…Well you know the rest. The train was starting to empty. Anytime now. She would walk away. Forever. “Babylon, Bay Shore, Islip,” the signs flashed, one after the other. She stayed. Maybe she lives in…no way…Another stop. “Bellport.” I checked my ticket. We’re getting closer. Now what? Just one word. One try, one word. “Hi”? yeah “hi” would be great…”Hi” would be perfect. “Hampton Bays.”  Then what? What if she just says “hi” back? What’s after “hi”? My hands sunk deeper into the pockets. “Southampton” the passengers got off.  “Hi” is good enough. “Hi” will do for now. “Bridgehampton.” The train doors opened and closed. Just say “hi.” It will follow.  Maybe “hello” would be better? “Hello’s” more complete. “Hi” is too short. “East Hampton.” It’s nearing the end of the line. Do something! What? Just fucking say “hi.” Say “hi” now. Just say “hi.” “Amagansett.” The train stopped.

“Hi.”

“Hey!”

Now what?

“Well this is my stop! So yeah…”

“Oh.”

“You?”

I stood dumbfounded. My mind shut down. The snow was pouring harder outside. I had to do something. Anything. Anything at all. I took my hands out and stretched my arms. I yawned. Feigning sleepiness.

“Here. My stop’s here.”

She looked at me, puzzled.

“Oh but your ticket says Montauk.”

I looked at my numb, outstretched arms. There was a ticket attached to the end of my hand. Clutched at the end of my fingertips. It said “Montauk” in big block letters. I stared at her. Speechless. It was over.

“Unless they made a mistake?” she said. She smiled that mischievous smile.

The red light flashed. The train screeched, warning that the doors were about to close.  The cold had settled in, fogging up the outside. I couldn’t see anything.

“Yeah. Yeah they did!” I said to her.

I put the ticket back in my pocket. Deep inside the warm pouch.

“Fuck Montauk!” I smiled back at her. She snickered. We both laughed. Then we fell silent in the afterglow. We looked out the door and got off the train, crossing that yellow line.

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