Next Station

She’s leaning against the steel handrail, covering up her loneliness with the music in her headphone, and copying the expressionless faces around — just like, anyone comes in the subway is supposed to act this way.

The world is already dead. She knows it much better than anyone else. Because what’s inside a subway is just as inanimate as what’s inside a nursing home. She knows it so well.

Which is the next station, what to do, who will welcome her, do not matter much. What matters is what she’s not aware of, or, already tired of.

But just at the time, he comes in.

Two trains going opposite directions meet here. He steps down over the platform, but she spots him right from the crowd.

He needs to transfer at this station. Still a stranger to this city, he walks to the marble pillar in front of the carriage window she’s behind and starts to check the route. He could not tell how his sight got pulled to meet hers.

Had this happened in the past, she would look away and act like she doesn’t care to avoid the awkwardness. But now, just like being nailed, her eyes could not run away.

What’s wrong with him? Why is he staring at her like a fool? She’s like no one he ever seen before. Some unspeakable crystal clearness brings the purity from the bottom of his heart. Somehow in this filthily hopeless world, he can still be different.

But just at this moment, the train starts to move slowly.

She begins to feel nervous and rushes to the door. He begins to follow the train and speeds up through the flow of passengers.

How they wish that something would happen to the train and make it stop. Sadly no. Sadly that they should meet within this one minute.

As her carriage is about to disappear, out of instinct, she points at the direction ahead with her finger.

“Next station.”

Then it’s all dark.

She can only hear her heart beats and the train chugging down the track. So clear and so unanimous, almost like a tacit agreement.

Did he get it? Will he come?

It is the longest ten minutes that she’s going through waiting at the next station. Images keep floating in her mind: those lonesome days, those questionings with tears, those eyes that only dogs and babies can read… Her eyes are wet again.

It is the most determined ten minutes that he’s going through in between the two stations. He cannot get her out of his head: her eyes, her light smile, her finger pointing at the next station… He closes his eyes and smiles.

The light from the dark tunnel gets brighter. She stands up and follows the train with a speeding-up pace; he should be in the front carriage.

The train finally stops. She counts the people stepping down; not him, not him either… She laughs; still this silly after so many disappointments, huh?

She feels something on her shoulder. She turns around. There is his grin. She laughs, just like blaming an old friend who never grows up.

Neither of them starts to talk. There are only smiles. How much time has passed? They don’t know and do not want to know. Trains come and go as people get on and off at this station, but these are only noises outside the bubble of she and him.

His eyes sparkle. Her eyes sparkle. There are still no words.

She and he start to nod slightly like they have realized something together. It’s difficult to tell whether those are smiles or sighs. Regardless of either, what’s sparkling is with pride and truthfulness.

Within the moment of their simultaneous blinks, they turn around. A sunny day blossoms behind.

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