Her hair cascaded down around her face. The light bounced delicately from strand to strand, illuminating single pieces. She curled a long finger up and tucked a few escaped tendrils behind a pale ear. Then she looked up.
The train clicked rhythmically over tracks. One. Two. One. Two. He counted.
We slipped through a tunnel and fluorescent light splattered her in bright white. She sat there bathed in translucence. His eyes grasped her from beneath long lashes, hidden behind the darkness of sunglasses. He pretended to casually look past her, like he hadn’t noticed her. But he had noticed her. He pretended to look through her as she glanced at him. She looked down.
She fell into her book. He saw her tumble. The words swam around her, drew her into their story. He tried to read the title of the book, but couldn’t quite see it. He wanted to know her. He wanted to know what those words said, and hear her read them.
He let the softness of her melt him. Her eyes were black, like the night. They darted quickly from side to side as she read.
Her blue jeans hugged her legs like they’d never let go. He wanted to know what that felt like – to hold her, as though he’d never let go.
She looked up.
He glanced away. He let his gaze fall on a sign further up the train carriage as he scratched the stubble of his beard with a calloused finger.
She looked at him. She had felt his eyes. He felt her eyes. He pretended not to notice. He let her look at him.
His eyes were hidden behind a dark wall of glass. She saw herself reflected there. She couldn’t read him. She held him with her gaze and for a moment wondered. She wondered who he was. She wondered where he’d been. She wondered if he smiled often.
And then the train slowed. She snapped herself awake and closed her book. She pulled her brown bag onto her shoulder and stood just as the train jerked to a halt. She grabbed a grubby silver railing to steady herself.
He looked back to her seat, which was now empty. He caught the back of her with his eyes as she stepped out the door. And then she was gone, lost in a sea of faces. For only a moment he wondered. He wondered who she was. He wondered where she’d been. He wondered if she smiled often.
The door hissed closed and under fluorescent light the train barrelled off into the distance.
One. Two. One. Two. He counted.
He wondered what he should have for dinner.