The View From a Distance
By Anna Marie
There was this girl.
I’d see her every morning while I waited at the train station. She was always sitting alone on her favorite bench. It was the closest bench to the stairs leading up to the platform. She’d sit with her legs crossed, feet dangling into the aisle. While reclining on her bench, she’d extend her legs so far, her bottom was often barely on the seat. Her feet always obstructed the paths of others. Whether it was her sparkly flip-flops or her strappy sandals, her polished piglets were always out for everyone to see.
She always had a bottle of iced tea in the mornings. Peach tea to be precise. I always found peach tea to be a bit too sweet for my taste, especially in the morning, but she slurped it down frequently and thoughtfully. She would artfully remove the packaging as she drank. She’d leave the wrapper a ball of waste on the seat; the glass bottle, a naked orphan, on the ground beneath.
Regularly, she’d walk around the platform, anticipation in her steps, carrying only a purse and her journal. I knew it was her journal because she’d write in it from time to time. It was a leather bound book about as big as her hand with a tiny chord holding it shut. Oftentimes, it would appear that something would come over her and she’d walk quickly over to her usual bench and scribble a few words. Her fingers would thoughtlessly meander through her curly blonde hair, twirling tiny sections as she jotted down ideas or poetry or dreams or whatever it is girls of her nature write.
She was a beautiful woman, no doubt about it. She was tall, slender and always immaculately dressed. In the spring time she’d frequently wear these knee length dresses and skirts with bright abstract floral prints. I’d never catch her in anything remotely boring or ordinary. The ornate jewelry she would wear always tastefully corresponded with her outfit. I’d sometimes catch her spinning on her heels when she waited for the train, the wind dancing playfully beneath her skirt. Her lips were always slickened in the brightest of reds; her eyes dark and subdued against her translucent skin.
I distinctly remember the day that I finally went over and spoke to her. I have been noticing her for months…maybe even years but had never mustered the courage to speak to her. She was wearing a plain button-up white shirt and simple blue skirt. She was gazing off past the train tracks at the buildings beyond; they were smothered in graffiti. With her lips pursed, she clutched her journal tightly to her chest.
Cautiously, I sat down beside her, my bag thumping to the ground at my feet. My anxiety grew in my chest and my eyes began to nervously wander the surroundings. The station was beginning to buzz with fellow commuters. Finally, I exhaled sharply, feeling some of my tension flee. She turned to me. Her eyes were a dark brown, muted but somehow piercing. I felt like I was surrendering. Then, in perfect fashion, she smiled at me… the way old friends do when reuniting. I felt peace in her smile, in her eyes, in her gaze. I smiled back, withholding most of my thrill.
“Hi there” I mustered, licking the corner of my lips timidly.
“Hey.” She replied quietly.
“Today should be a nice day.”
“You think?” she tilted her head to the side.
“Well that’s what the weatherman said on the T.V.…you think it might rain?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Things change all the time.”
“Never a truer statement.” I smiled at her, “You never know what’s coming for you.”
“Life is a strange thing. Always changing, you never know what to expect. I suppose that is what makes it so exciting.” She looked away.
I chuckled and nodded, “Very true, indeed.”
“Who’s to tell what will happen tomorrow? Later this afternoon?” she hesitated and turned to me.
Unexpectedly, she leaned into me and I could smell her scent - fresh clean laundry right off the line. The breeze fluttered through her curls, softly exposing the beauty of her face. Without a glimmer of hesitation, she tilted her head and kissed me, her hands extending to hold my shoulder and caressing my face. My body jerked with surprise from her advancement. Her lips held mine, their warmth and smoothness subduing me. I felt like I was dissolving from her touch. I had always imagined how our first meeting would go; the awkward conversation we’d have. I had never imagined it would go something like this.
She leaned back on the bench, hands gripping her journal once again. I was left with eyes closed, smiling. The surprise of the moment elated me. Her beauty floored me. Finally, I looked at her. She was again gazing off at the buildings on the other side of the tracks. Her posture and composure were perfect as if nothing had just happened.
“I..I don’t know what to say.” I finally whispered.
“It’s okay. Sometimes, there is nothing to be said.”
For a few moments, we sat in silence, both gazing off at the graffiti. There were pictures of girls’ faces with words scrawled beneath them. Beautiful trees were portrayed with clever sayings around them. Even the simple word “SMILE” was sprayed out. Colors swirled together to create strong symbols and numbers. There were large words drawn five stories up with no ladder in sight. I was impressed by the height of the drawings…how far people would go to make themselves known, to express themselves.
She stole a glance at her watch. Hastily, she pushed her journal into her purse and stood up. She looked down at me. Those brown eyes were haunting, paralyzing. I wish I had known what was on her mind. Her lips were glistening and I wanted nothing more than to talk with her, to kiss her, to know her. Something about her made me want to be with her, always. I watched as the corner of her lips flickered and the first part of a word tried to slip its way through. She quickly rejected the idea of talking and turned away.
She walked toward the platform and looked off into the distance. Clouds were beginning to spread across the sky. I didn’t know if I should get up and join her at the platform edge or hold her seat in hopes that’d she come back and join me. The blaring sound of a train’s horn was approaching. She looked back at me, the wind blowing her hair around her face. The thunderous horn continued to echo through the stillness of the station. I stood and walked over to greet her. I smiled gingerly at her.
“Perhaps we can sit together on the train?” I inquired.
“Oh, that would be wonderful.” Her answer was hollow, her gaze transfixed on the incoming train with its intense light shining and horn blasting.
As the train was moments away from the platform, I shouted “It was great meeting you.”
She glanced over her shoulder at me, “I agree. It’s been great.”
“What’s your name, anyway?”
Those were my last words to her as she dropped her purse at my feet and jumped from the platform. Her body was gone in an instant as the train grinded to a stop. The screams from the other passengers echoed across the platform overwhelming the sound of the still blaring horn.