The day started like many of my other commutes. Up at 5, out the door at 5.20, on the train at 5.50, train pulling away from the station at 6.
I slept fitfully on the two-hour train ride, relishing the chilly walk from the Amtrak station over to the Metro station. The brisk morning air counteracted the dour visages that greeted me on the Metro train platform. It took about eight minutes for my train to arrive, and I entered the second car from the front at the forward door, dutifully following the disembodied voice to “move to the center of the car.”
When I reached the center of the car, there she was, walking to the center from the rear door of the car. Lightning struck and a thunderbolt clapped when our eyes met, and everybody else on the train faded to a muted, mottled gray. All sound faded and the only thing I could hear was her voice as she said, “I’m Simone. Who are you?”
“Anthony,” I said, as sure of it as I was anything else in my entire life. “My friends call me Tony.”
“Well, good morning, Tony,” she said, her soft, blue eyes wrapping around my very soul and tearing it out. In an instant, we became one. I was Michael Corleone, she was Apollonia Vitelli. I was Romeo, she was Juliet. Lancelot and Guinevere. Paris and Helena. Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. Eloise and Abelard. Napoleon and Josephine. In the entire history of love and lovers, never had two souls connected so completely, merged so quickly.
“But I’m married,” she said.
“I’m married, too, and I have kids,” I countered.
“Oh my God, so do I. I completely forgot my kids,” she said.
“I’ll ride the train with you to wherever you’re going, just … just don’t leave me behind. I couldn’t bear it,” I said.
We rode the train for hours, neither of us caring any more about family, friends, jobs or any of those important, life-defining things. All that mattered was that we were together. We discussed how difficult it would be to break our spouses’ hearts, disrupt our children’s lives – and yet, none of it mattered. None of it. All that mattered was the future – our future, together.
We discussed where to go and settled on Denver. She has family there, I have friends. It’s a good city, clean and modern and with lots of job opportunities. It’s in the middle of the country, sort of, so once the kids got used to the idea of us being together, it would be easy for them to visit.
“Stadium-Armory,” the train driver droned. “Last chance to transfer to the Orange and Silver lines.”
She looked deep into my eyes and said, “I at least have to go get my things from work, and tell them I quit.”
“Me, too,” I added.
“What stop do you need?” she asked.
“Court House,” I said. “Orange line.”
“I need a Blue line train,” she said, a single tear rolling down her cheek.
“There’s nobody else at this station. You’ll be lonely. I’ll wait with you,” I said. “I’ll wait with you.”
“No, that’s OK,” she said, sadly. “I have a book. I’ll be OK.”
She broke our gaze to ruffle in her purse, finding what she was looking for and drawing a thick paperback from its depths.
“Pride and Prejudice?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “I just love Jane Austen. I was even in a production of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ in college.”
“Is that so?” I asked as I shoved her in front of the train speeding through the station at that very moment.
NO PASSENGERS, the sign on its marquee read.