It was cold and I was late home from work. The sky was a bleak iron grey. People rushed past with their heads down and coats wrapped tightly around them, clutching the folds to themselves. Old snow lay in a muddy brown slush piles in corners or gutters. Every shop that was passed had blaring, over loud Christmas songs that all mixed together to make an incomprehensible garble of noise. Late night Christmas shoppers pushed past each other, jostling to grab the flashiest gifts – anything to give to that person they'd forgotten. The tacky artificial lights hurt my eyes. With a sigh of relief I slipped into the underground. It wasn't as crowded as outside, rush hour being over, but there were still a fair number of people shuffling through the corridors.
I slipped quickly through the rapidly closing doors and grabbed the pole above my head. That's when I saw her. She was sitting so innocently there across from me, her long chestnut hair falling enchantingly around her face, a few stray strands falling into her eyes. She had a sweet smile on her face, like her mind was engaged with some private amusing thought. She hadn't realised I was watching her yet but before long the intensity of my gaze drew her eyes to mine and they locked. Her eyes were hazel and they sparkled with life. Something passed between us. Her face reflected excitement and the smile on her face turned from wistful to something else, something that made my stomach turn over.
Then the spell was broken. An arm twined itself possessively around her waist and she looked away and up into the face of someone else, the smile turned back to the wistful one.
I looked away; unable to keep my gaze on her, my insides hurt, like I'd swallowed handfuls of broken glass and it was shredding me to pieces.
She got off at the next stop, her hand in that of her companion's. I watched her leave with a heavy heart but to my surprise she turned back. Her head tilted and she looked directly at me again before she was pulled off, devoured by the crowd.
That night I had a dream. She came to me in my sleep with angel's wings and a halo of gold.
"What are you doing here?" I asked her quietly.
She didn't answer me. She just smiled in her beautiful way and took my hand. The halo and wings were gone and she was just wearing a powder blue dress that drifted behind her as she floated along. She pointed upwards at fluffy clouds and soft yellow light. A real angel stood there in magnificent glory. Its wings were large and heavy, lying across its back and it wore a long white robe.
"The bond between us has been heavenly ordained," she whispered in my ear and then I awoke.
My mind was full of her. Her sweetness, her innocence, her light. I didn't know what to do. Christmas was closing in fast and I wanted to be with her, so I returned to the subway station. At the same time and the same place as I'd last met her. The odds on her being here too were so minimal they were non-existent but what if we were meant to be? Then she'd be here right? Wasn't Christmas supposed to be a time of miracles?
I boarded the train and stood right where I had the very first time I saw her, in the exact same carriage, but she wasn't there.
I stood in quiet misery and stared at the place where she'd rested. Her essence lingered there. It was like I could see the image of her still sitting there with the smile on her face. Then a stranger sat down and the vision dissipated into shreds, like insubstantial mist.
Feeling ridiculous and annoyed at myself I turned away…and there she was. Watching me with a small smile hovering on her lips. This time I didn't pause. I held her tightly and kissed her and she kissed me back. And this time when she got off the subway it was my hand she was holding and there was no glancing back.