He sits in the corner of the train lobby, on one of the soft, cushion seats that sometimes make you feel like plucking at the protruding foam, but I doubt he can even feel it. The window is always open above his head, the breeze of the moving train grabs onto his chocolate hair, making it dance like grass on a spring morning, but I doubt he can even feel it. I sit opposite him, across the hallway every Thursday morning and after the first few encounters, it's hard not to notice him, and I try to smile, but I doubt he can even feel it. He's always in old, dark clothes and torn sneakers and never carries anything with him so I know he doesn't go to university and doesn't have a job, but I doubt he even cares.
It is the fifth time I have seen him and just like the other times, I stand up with a twist in my stomach that makes my hands clench and walk out the train doors, stealing a glance at him before they slide close. But this time, he lifts his head, not to look at me despite the kick in my heart, but at the empty seat I was at only a few seconds before, and I feel a strange urge to run up to the windows and beat my fists against it and scream that it's me, I'm the one you're looking for. But I don't, and the doors close while I stand there and watch the train screech past me and I catch a glimpse of his eyes and it takes my breath away. They are the strongest colour of blue, like the sea, but are washed away by a pain and hopelessness as if someone reached into his head and turned a knob that dimmed the lights. It breaks my heart, as I stand there before the fleeting grey of the vanishing train.
And that was when I fell in love with his eyes.
Exactly a week later I enter the train and he's there, his head down and his hair falling over his eyes. In his hands I see a tiny doll made out of tattered fabric with stringy woollen hair and button eyes and he's staring at it, his thumbs trailing melancholy strokes down its face as if wiping away its tears. I have to look away because I feel a sting behind my eyes and a tightening in my throat as I think, what happened? and I don't want him to know that I was looking. Whose doll is that? A little girl's? A sister's? And then I realise it doesn't matter if he sees my tears because he isn't looking anyway. He never looks. Then he pockets the doll and I see his chest rise and fall in a shaky sigh and he lifts his hand to his face and rubs his eyes.
And that was when I noticed the bruises on his arms and the rips on his knuckles.
It's quite embarrassing but I sort of run onto the train on Thursday morning with an overwhelming hunger to see him after a week of a tugging at the pit of my stomach that tells me that the bruises could have gotten worse and I may not see him again. But when I get there and sit down, he's sleeping. He has his head resting on the wall and his eyes are shut, but there are lines in the corners as if he's having a nightmare or he's trying to close himself away from one. I look at his arms quickly and I see the bruises are discoloured and fading. The wind above his head pushes his hair across his forehead and I want to walk over and push it back and I lean forward to stand up but a big woman walks in the aisle between us. The train jerks and she loses her balance, her big floral handbag knocks against his knee and his eyes open, and once again, I can only stare. The woman apologises and I have to sit up to see over her enormous bosom to see him shake his head and tell her don't worry. She tells him to have a good day and his lips curve into a smile that doesn't reach his eyes, but is a smile nonetheless. I can tell he doesn't smile often because when she leaves, it's gone and he turns his head away.
And that was when I noticed his hollow cheeks and sharp jaw and I told myself to give him something to eat the next time I see him.
He's there and again, his head is down and his eyes are open but he doesn't see. I clutch the paper bag harder and debate with myself how I'm going to give it to him. Finally, I put it on the floor in front of me and nudge it over to him with my foot. I watch as the brown bag slides across the train aisle and stops at his sneakers and I know he sees it because his body tenses. There's a moment of dread when we both stare at the paper bag and I can't help it but I feel my eyes water at the thought of him not accepting it; not of humiliation, but of failure. The rope around my throat loosens as he bends over and picks it up and I watch in anticipation as he reaches in. He pulls out a cupcake with pink icing and a smiley face made of M&Ms and I feel a bubbling in my chest when he lifts his beautiful eyes and sees me. I want to smile but I feel like a little schoolgirl as my palms begin to sweat and my heart races under his stare. We both sway as the train reaches a halt and I realise it's my stop so I suck in a breath and scurry out. When the fresh air hits me and I finally spin around to see him bite into my cupcake, I feel laughter escaping my lips as his face scrunches at the sweetness of the icing.
And that was when I first saw a smile that reached his eyes.
During the next few meetings he smiles as I sit down opposite him but he doesn't talk when I say hello so I fill in the gaps and tell him stories about my uni course and my job and my family and my friends and my life and I know he listens because he laughs and nods along. I find myself thinking about our next meeting and being in the stare of his blue eyes every other day and I can barely sleep on Wednesday nights when I know that he'll be there in only a few hours time.
But I stop catching that train for two months after my boss changes my shift on account of another employee travelling overseas. I almost cry when I find out because it means that I won't see him and I had promised myself to never leave his side. So when the employee returns and my shift changes back, I stand on the edge of the platform, bouncing on the balls of my feet as the train wheels skid to a stop and the doors slide open. I have a huge smile on my face and I leap into the train only to stop as my stomach turns inside out and swallows my heart. In the corner of the lobby, on the cushioned seat, he is not there, and I don't know what to do and I don't know where to sit because I only sat there because of him. So I stand. I grip the metal pole with wet palms as I think of all the horrible things that could have happened to him while I was gone. I feel myself shudder with sobs as I think, was it all for nothing? Did he lose the hope that I had seen growing in his eyes? Currents of colours surge across the window as the train moves from station to station to station and when it reaches my stop, I bend down and pick up my handbag and when I stand up, I see him.
He's standing tall on the platform in a suit and a smile that I have grown to love and he's holding up flowers. I can't speak, I can only gape as I walk towards him, taking in his black blazer and shiny shoes and the smooth, healthy contours of his face and I reach over and trace the lines of his cheekbones and jaw. Suddenly, I find myself encased in his arms and he's whispering something over and over again. He's saying thank you, thank you, thank you, and I ask what for? He releases me and I see his eyes. They look like the sky, a colour that one can only reach for and try to grab but never touch. It's the colour of his accomplishment and it's his colour. And he leans in and tells me, for the smile, the tears, the cupcake, the laughs, the stories, and the hope. He tells me he's got a job and has moved out of the house into his own apartment and asks me if I want to grab breakfast with him because he thinks he wants me with him forever.
And that was when I kissed him and told him that I loved his eyes, his smile, his voice, and his spirit; and so we walked off together, hand in hand, smiling smiles that reached our eyes.
A/N: Hi, so this is a spur of the moment thing. Mr. Imagination just shot a water bomb of inspiration at me before I went to bed last night, so I had to write something the moment I woke up. :D It's very different from my other story, but *shrug*, OH WELL.
It's actually the fastest story I have ever written because I usually take a millennium trying to get over writers block. haha.... OKAY, so I hope you like it so please review because it'll be much appreciated.
And I own everything that you don't recognise, like, say... the characters.
EDITED on January 24th, 2011, by my lovely American friend, Elizabeth