An hour passes. Then another. Sitting. Waiting. I didn’t want her to see me admiring, but I needed her to know I had noticed. I glance when I feel she has turned her gaze away, keep glancing, until by chance our eyes meet. And they stay, like this, neither of us willing to pass up the moment. I blink. An image of her naked, momentarily etched behind the lids of my eyes. Open. Where are you going? she asks, crossing those legs, her coat flowing with them. I’m distracted. She smiles her approval. Maybe it would be easier to tell me where you have been? and follows an imperceptible lift of the eyebrow. But I notice. I like your hands, I dare a compliment. My hands? Really. Why? Maybe because I can imagine them on me, I do not say. Instead. I love to watch people draw, to write, especially when I know it is just for me, my own personal piece of theatre. Her eyes narrow, so I believe, inviting me in. She is smiling. Maybe I’ll paint for you one day, she says, her smile intensifying. You paint? I question, my eyebrow mirroring her own. No, she returns, but if you want me to I will. I try to make out the stations name through the dark of her reflection in the window, it washes past unread. Not many left now, my fear advised me to wait so long. When I return my attention her neck is strained, face hidden, staring through the seat behind. I follow her gaze. A man. A girl. Arm in arm, hand in hand, her head rested upon his shoulder. I wonder what they are dreaming? she asks, her face now partially visible, flat against the fabric of her seat. One eyed she gathers my thoughts. Do you always pry on other’s dreams? I tease. I wish to flirt. To prickle her into submission. I think, she says, I think that if I could see into other’s dreams, then I would understand them, become them, learn their wants and their desires. Pause. Have you never thought, she continues, what it would be like to spend time within another’s head? To feel exactly what they feel, but knowing what you know, how do you imagine that would be? Her eyes are searching me, probing for something, someone. Will you let me in? Slowly, I unwind the question in my mind, savouring its endless possibilities. She watches, tongue sliding behind closed lips, glued in anticipation. I can only imagine. And I say, if you know what you know; your experiences, judgements, principles and ideas, then you cannot possibly understand what it is to be another. Her lips relax apart, and she utters, but you must still hold onto the essence of who you are, in order for you to understand why you are there. What can you compare to if you cannot remember what it is to be you? I caress the sweat from my forehead, clumsily disguised as the momentary need to itch. I don’t have an answer to that, I say, half grinning, half nervous wondering. I wait. Her head lowers, her mouth falls out of sight. I’m tired she says, buttoning her jacket, and nearly home. Button by button until reaching the end, I wait. It’s not you, she breathes, I thought…You thought..? Anguish in my words. She stares through the reflection of herself into the outside world, the train pulls in, the sound consuming her words, whispered, only decipherable by the weave of her lips, I thought it was you.
This could be a dream. A story about a boy, or a girl. A conversation between two real people, on a real train. A poem about the fluidity of my thoughts and yours. Isn’t the reader always the main character in a story?