Two Stops on the Train, by Jennifer Cannon
He stood up and headed for the exit as the train rolled slowly to a stop. As the door slid open he turned and looked directly at me, the slightest hint of a smile on his lips, acknowledging what I, what we both, had felt. I lowered my eyes, coyly, and smiled to myself. I had boarded the train two stops earlier and plopped myself down next to him. I hadn’t chosen him specifically, it was the only open seat, but as I sat down I accidently brushed against his leg and that is when I felt it. The energy. The chemical reaction that exists between two people. That moment where everything is possible. That moment that people who have affairs chase after, endlessly, like greyhounds chasing that fake little rabbit they will never catch. The moment of lust and intrigue when your heart races a bit and you want to jump in with both feet, with abandon.
We didn’t exchange glances or words. We just sat quietly next to one another, the train humming along, our energy bouncing around the train car with every turn of the track. He was young, much too young for me (and I’m partial to younger men). He was somewhere in his mid-twenties; to me almost still boyish, yet obviously so much a man. I’m sure the only thing we had in common was we were both sporting black, Converse tennis shoes and bike messenger bags. He smelled good. Not like Axe or Old Spice or that expensive soccer player cologne. He smelled clean, like Soap-On-A-Rope. I could see from the corner of my eye the dark hair that curled around the back of his ear was still damp. It was summer and his arms and legs were bare and tan, as were mine. His muscles were well-formed and I took him for an outdoorsy, hiker-biker-rock climber-type. I could picture him with a backpack slung loosely over one shoulder, tilting his head back to take a drink from his REI water bottle as he gazed off into the distance from the top of some mountain he’d just climbed. His masculinity permeated the air and I breathed it in.
I closed my eyes and reveled in it. I love men. I love everything about men. (The irony of which is I often get mistaken for being a lesbian due to my shaved head and choice of comfortable footwear.) I love their deep, mellow voices and their five o’clock shadows. The way their white Hanes t-shirts strain against the muscles in their chests and biceps. The way they wear their jeans, loose and comfortable, and the fact that they balk when they are asked to wear anything else. I love them for being strong and reliable and simple. Not simple minded, I like their brains as much as their brawn, but simple in their needs. Hot meal, cold beer, soft woman. Those were needs I could meet. I like that they are capable of killing things if they have to; I am not. I love the way they make me feel like a woman.
I opened my eyes and glanced around. Not at him, that would have been awkward, and unnecessary. Eye contact is overrated in these encounters. Besides, I was in a relationship with someone I loved very much. As much as I love men, one-at-a-time was always enough for me. Loving a man didn’t make me appreciate other men less though, why should it? Everything I love about all men was condensed and available to me in this one, singular man that was available to me. A few more people got on at the next stop and the train lurched on. More Dilberts, like me, headed to their office jobs. A few odds-n-ends type people I could never peg. People who didn’t look like they were headed to an office job, yet were on the 7:40 AM train, headed downtown. They didn’t look like they wanted to be up at that time of the day, given the choice. Maybe they were going to court. Or to the hospital for a test of some sort. Maybe to the welfare office, or to pick up a misguided son or daughter from juvie. They looked disenfranchised and sad, or angry, or both. A friend once said to me the reason he hated public transportation so much was, well, the public. It was mean, but it made me laugh all the same.
At the next stop he got off. The glance, the smile, then he was gone. As I savored the moment, the moment of energy and attraction and mystery, a mammoth of a man, a great, hairy beast with troll-like features, heaved his massive bulk down where my never-lover had been just a tick of the clock ago. He settled himself in with a loud grunt, shoving me halfway out of my seat and into the aisle, then let out a long, exasperated sigh, garlic and stale coffee now permeating the air. I sighed. Maybe he would get off at the next stop.
The adventure continues.