Our story is of a boy and a girl. Strangers toiling through the humdrum monotony of life in the effervescent busy streets of New York City. They meet by chance on a subway platform. It’s a story we know well yet cannot help but be drawn to: a fleeting moment, eyes finding and catching one another in a lingering breath of time. A tender connection found before it fades away and they are pulled back into the unyielding thrust of life. A fleeting moment. Will it be forgotten?
Mondays greet with a rush, tumbling you into that hamster wheel of time that seems to have been on a neverending crash course for too long now. Thrust into the busy streets of New York City, a thrill that used to course through your veins now leaves you feeling hollow and worn thin. Life’s invigorating pulse has become a dull thrum behind your eyelids, skittering across your skin with the tease of something new that teeters around you, elusively beckoning as your feet hit the pavement and the wheel spins on.
On Monday, Sara meets a boy on a subway platform on a warm day in June. She remembers the sharp cut of his cheekbones and the tenseness in his shoulders and the way his lips relaxed into the faintest of a smile when their eyes met. The moment is fleeting, too subtle for her to cling onto as her mind races for work and deadlines and how the train seemed especially late that day.
She meets a boy who she doesn’t really meet at all and the day blurs on.
Sara likes to think of herself as well-organized and rational but the truth is, she’s not, far from it. A computer table littered with post-its (don’t forget lunch with Marla on Sunday!) is a sore reminder and focusing on any task has become a miserable failure these past few days. She tries to blame it on the weather (it’s sunny and not the issue at all) but eventually those shadowy excuses lose their breath.
Her thoughts drift to the boy on the subway platform and the sharpness of his eyes and it makes her smile and it makes her wonder. Deadlines beckon and there’s that cross team phone meeting at twelve but she can’t help but think of the boy without a name and the cast of flickering train light caught in the hollows of his face. (His name is Daniel but she doesn’t know this and here is a list of other things she does not know: he’s twenty-seven and a successful architect and, despite this, struggles with new inspiration in a desperate attempt to find the spark that started his love so many years ago. She doesn’t know that he picks up his routine coffee every morning at 6:45 am on the corner of Thompson & W. 3rd street and drinks it black with one sugar. She doesn’t know that the watch on his wrist was a gift from his father back in England and that he still feels a little bit guilty at not having visited home in so long; and when he’s listless, the busy hum from the streets below his office window soothe at the chaos in his mind.)
She doesn’t know that his thoughts are filled with her as well.
It goes like this: if you meet someone by chance and think of them most ardently, regardless of whether or not that even makes sense, is there a possibility that you could find them once again simply by hoping for it? Sara is not certain of a lot of things in life but she is definitely certain of a few and one in particular. And that is, life doesn’t play out like the pages of a novel tucked between the palms of your hands and the frenzied thrum of reality doesn’t melt away just so that you can live out your thoughts of wistful longing.
It’s been three days since Daniel last saw her, the girl with the soft eyes and tender smile. Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday and the memory hasn’t served to fade at all, only persisted. Like an annoying song tumbling on loop in the back your brain or the gnawing of a pulled hangnail on the edge your thumb. Only she isn’t any of those things, the girl with the fine-boned fingers and soft-tinged smile pulling at her lips when she looked at him. The memory visits warm and sweet and settles upon his shoulders fondly. Like summer in the park with the cherry blossoms in bloom, or the rich scent of mulled apple cider that spills from the corner shops in autumn. He knows it’s stupid and he knows it’s border-lining on something possibly ridiculous but still, he lingers at the same subway station in hope that time might repeat itself.
Eight million people in New York City and still he holds his breath and tries not to feel a deepening disappointment when he does not see her again. Chalk it up to the universe pulling at the whisper of strings that tie the mysteries of the world together and him just not being in the right place at the right time. Somewhere, someone’s laughing at this all but the thing is, he hadn’t realized the punchline had been delivered, story told and over, and he wants to rewrite the ending.
On Friday, they are both at the right place at the right time. And everything changes.