It was an odd summer night, for there was a cool breeze in the air and on the barren plains. It was almost a pleasure waiting on the platform after another hard summer day’s toil. Unfortunately, she did not have to wait long, as the train arrived soon; and once inside, she took a deep breath of the controlled environment that she was so used to now. Five stops home, she thought, as she took a seat on the midnight train- the last one for the night.
As she sat there in the near empty carriage, looking at the few and comprehending their lifestyles and behavior, the train pulled to a slow halt at the next stop. It was going to be as eventless as any other night, she thought, as she stole a glance at the doors for a familiar face.
The couple entered, mindless of her presence, or anybody else’s. They seemed to be lost in a mild conversation, or perhaps an argument, she could not really say. Her steady gaze on the door and the man amongst the two, shifted to her lap as casually as it could. She would look up occasionally at them, or maybe just at him, and slowly let her eyes settle back to her lap, and then to her phone, that she now seemed to fiddle with, restlessly.
As another stop breezed by, she could not really wait to get back home, to the comforts of her lonely bed. As she gathered the courage to steal another look, she could sense him behave nearly in the same way as her. For a brief moment, and in that, it was the shortest of time spans that you could barely measure or name, their eyes met, and then fled back to a different interest. She was confused whether to smile at this exchange or withhold any such feeling.
The train seemed to have slowed down as time refused to budge, to make the journey of two stops longer than it was. She tried to take her mind off of him and looked around for familiar faces. She was not really hopeful, but she did crave some company at the moment. There was not a comforting face in that thin crowd, let alone a familiar one. She could sense, or maybe she just seemed to think that he was just as curious and uncomfortable.
As the train arrived at her destination, she hurried to the door, and stepped out in a great hurry much before the doors fully opened. The calming breeze had now no effect on her. She got to the exit perspiring and not stopping or looking back. She hoped the bus that took her home from there would be at the stop, ready to leave as she got there. But luck had decided not to smile on her that night. As she waited at the stop, she saw the couple emerge from the station, and head towards her. She could sense through the darkness that they were looking at her and speaking animatedly. She decided not to wait for the bus, and turned on her heels to walk home.
It was a strange encounter, this, but barely an encounter with a stranger. Despite how they acted, they were no strangers to each other. Having known each other for years now, and until a month ago, they couldn’t bring themselves to acknowledge each other’s presence. In a world full of strangers, adding someone known to that list was a strange experience indeed.