I don’t actually know what the following is, other than: the beginning.
The subway was crowded that morning. It was always crowded when it rained.
It was like no matter how far people had to travel, they were terrified of getting wet. It’s probably closer to the truth to say that most of them had lost several umbrellas in the windy corridors created by the city’s office towers. And yet, to a person, every man and woman carried a neatly folded umbrella, their multiple layers showing nary a single bead of dampness.
By the second station on my route to work, I had lapsed into my typical fog of who cares. At this stage in my life, work was just something I had to do to make money. I had long ago given up on any hope of finding fulfillment or happiness on the job, if only because the company had a strict no-dating policy. Without interoffice sex, my desk was just another place to sort papers.
It didn’t take long before the fog in my head was matched by a fog on the windows of the subway car. The body heat of the mingled strangers turned damp coats and hats into instant humidifiers, rain water mingling with sweat and post-shower damp to coat the walls and windows of the subway with rivulets of diluted deodorant, cologne and perfume. All we needed were a few handprints on the window and the subway car would have looked like the back seat of a sedan parked at a drive-in where the kids inside were doing everything but watching the movie.
I had managed to grab a seat that morning, an unexpected bonus for getting up a little earlier. Even living at the end of the line was no guarantee of finding any comfort in local transit. Too often, I spent my time staring down the tops of flat-chested teens too self-absorbed to give up a seat or leather-skinned grandmothers so desiccated they made your tear ducts hurt. That morning, however, I had managed a forward-facing seat. So people could look down my top and I got to stare right into their crotches.
It was a rough ride into town that morning. The constant start and stop of the train as it waited for the guy up ahead to get his shit together, and the tropical humidity that was slowly growing in my shorts made the decorated plywood seat under my ass that much more uncomfortable. Within 20 minutes, I found myself chafing like a newborn in a day-old diaper.
Tugging at my trouser legs to try and unbunch the material from my crotch, I felt something soft and dry against the back of my left hand. Looking over, I realized it was a leg.
A gorgeous leg. A leg that begged to be touched, but could just as easily crush your balls with the slightest twitch. A leg that worked out regularly, but had never seen a gym in its life. And standing right next to it was another leg, which also shimmered in the grey opalescence of flawless stockings.
Recognizing my transgression and not wanting to be rude, I moved up from the legs. Past the immaculate tweed skirt, the crisp peach blouse, the mottled brown scarf and up to the reddest smile I have ever seen in my life.
This red, I was certain, existed nowhere else in the world. This was a red created for one woman and set aside, the formula for this colour being instantly destroyed as it would appear flawed on anyone else.
I smiled at that red, those lips, and nodded slightly. It was an apology for the unintended intimacy. Words seemed out of place for some reason. The slight rise of her right cheek told me I had been forgiven.
Summoning everything I had in me, I tore my eyes away from that mouth and back to the zoo I called my ride into work.
The fog had definitely lifted from my morning, but it had been replaced with an equally numbing intoxication that I couldn’t handle. Although numbing probably wasn’t the right word, because there was damned little I wasn’t feeling at this moment.
I don’t know if it was 10 seconds or 10 minutes later when the subway jostled around a bend, but what I do know is that the leg found my hand this time. And as the curve of the tracks lingered, so too did the leg, sliding its silken fibers up and down the back of my hand until it began to pull the hairs out one by one.
As the train pulled back onto a straighter course, however, the leg stayed exactly where it had landed, determined to either erase every hair off the back of my hand or gain my attention. It was about to complete the first, but it was mission accomplished on the second.
(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission but a lot of inner dialogue.)