They looked married. In what they took for granted, the other riders saw they had been together forever. He read the map of the system posted by the door, tilting his head to follow the lines, and kept his balance with a hand on the pole. She clung to the same pole and looked at the knees of the regular riders. Their fingers touched. Without looking at her, he read her the names of the next four stops, landing metaphorically on the fourth stop with both feet. She looked almost at him and nodded and began to count. At the third stop, she said, Oh, Christopher! That’s very near the square! Well, he answered, If you want to, make it happen. And she was off the train just as the doors slid closed behind her. He clutched the rubber seam and, through the door, at her, in wide-eyed panic spoke clearly, Wait here! But had she heard him? And why had he not said, instead, which made more sense, Come to the next station! In two minutes he was off the train sweating in the stifling heat of a subway platform, watching a rat cross the tracks in his direction and disappear. If she hadn’t heard, she would arrive on the next train. If she had, and thought it wise to wait, it would frighten her if he were not on the return train; he should hurry back. But if she had seen the folly in his plan, he should trust her and wait. He wiped the stinging sweat from his eyes and looked for the rat. Not knowing where it had gone was unbearable. This could be worse, she thought. I can go or I can wait, and he will know I love and trust him either way.

Copyright © September 06, 2009 David Hodges

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