A change of plans

Miso photo by Paul Downey. Couple photo by sekihan.

A salaryman wearing a nice suit was leaning over the girl sitting next to me, and they were speaking softly. Perhaps she was too old to properly be called a girl, but I was crammed in so close to her on the subway seat that I couldn’t turn and look without staring directly into her ear. I was so close that when she moved I could feel it. I was much closer than the man was, but I sat and stared straight ahead and pretended not to hear them talk, as you do on the subway.

He was certainly to old be called a boy. He was probably in his mid thirties, his suit still wrinkle free after a day in the office, face shaven, hair perfect.

“So what’s the plan tonight? Same as yesterday?“ the man was saying, and I couldn’t see the girl next to me but I could feel her presence, as well as their togetherness, the fact that they had somewhere to go and someone to go with after work.

“Not again!” she said, in a false-angry voice. “We can’t do that every night.”

“You said you loved it…” he said, and I was left to pretend I wasn’t listening and look straight ahead and imagine what it was that a man in a nice suit was trying to convince the girl sitting next to me what to do after work, and also what it was she was pretending she didn’t want to do.

“It’s not like it hurts anything…”

“I just think we shouldn’t do that every day. It will stop being special…”

And so they went on, and the man, in a slightly annoying way, was winning, until the girl I could feel but couldn’t see put her foot down.

“No. I made miso soup,” she said.

“You made miso?” He paused. “Well, we could eat at home…”

“Yes,” She said.

It can take a year to properly make miso, you start with fermented rice called koji and and heat it and kned in the soybeans and add salt and then you must let it sit. She’d been planning for tonight for at least a year.

A few stops before mine she got up and took his hand and they went, and as they stepped off the train, I could just hear him say “When did you…”

And that was the end of it. I don’t remember exactly what I did that day, but I’m sure I took the train to my station and stopped at the little grocery store at the corner and got some chicken and instant ramen.