At the close of Friday

She slept and I waited

There were two seats to choose from on the metro: one was a man ten years older than me reading _Friday Night Lights_ and a woman closer to my own age, reading a book whose title I could not see. — But then everyone I saw seemed to be reading. Authors I hadn’t heard of. There was a moment of hesitation, of consideration of things not counted consciously, and then I sat down next to the woman.

I was too worn out from work to read myself, so instead I stared at my sleeve and waited. There was a group of people at the back of the car laughing like hyenas. A boy maybe nine years old they were trying to entertain, I think. Something about the way they laughed disturbed me. Forced. Too loud.

I felt protective towards the woman sitting next to me, that should these jackals in the back turn bloodthirsty I would be ready. She seemed in a world unto herself even though she was no different from anyone else. The way she held the book. And the people in the back laughed and switched seats at each stop — I could not discern what they were laughing about, not even if it was just some joke they only knew about, or if it was the fat woman with the awful hair sitting in the row in front of me, or even myself.

When we reached daylight again I looked out the window, to catch sight of whatever sun I could through the clouds. And I saw her face: she had fallen asleep in the crook of the window. She was beautiful. And they were laughing again –

I shouldn’t have turned and looked back at her right before I got off the train. She was awake and her face seemed different than I remembered, even from ten minutes ago. She met my gaze for a half-second, and I looked away and waited for the doors to open.

Article © 2005 by Chris Klimas