This is the spot. She knows this is the spot. Even after nineteen months she could not be mistaken. No, this is where they are to meet, reunite to be accurate. She sits on the ledge watching the passengers file pass. All the trains exit this way. If he were on one he would have to be here, unless…no this is the spot. This is the day.
She tugs nervously at the hem of her dress. It is the floral one she wore when they first met at the USO club, blue with big red poppies. He teased her saying she looked matronly. Now, sitting on the cold green subway tiles she regrets choosing it.
She could hear another train pull into the station. The wheels echo along the arched ceiling. Military men and civilians trickle then stream through the dark corridor. Their shoes clicking on the tile like hail from an approaching storm. The dampness makes the air heavy and still inside this traveler’s tomb. Napkins stick to forearms. A torn placard with a white horse hangs on the wall opposite. Where is he?
She takes the letter out of the small pocket of her dress. It is his last letter and she sees hopes and dreams. He wrote less and less but she knew how much he cared, how they would spend their lives together. But that was three months ago. A lot can happen in three months. A lot happens in three days overseas. He must feel the same way. He must.
A piercing scream turns her head to the left. Two young girls in matching burgundy outfits run up to their father. He scoops them up as if they are bubbles in a bath. A couple embraces right in front of her. Have they no decorum? She cranes her neck around them. A few rush pass, a cigarette in one hand, duffle in the other. They all look so familiar.
The subway ride here made her nauseous earlier. Her head rested on the cloudy window as the stations blurred by. She had not eaten much the last week or two and slept even less. But she tried reading his letter over and over looking for something extra, something that would tie her over until she saw him. She rehearsed what she would say to him. During that ride she checked her make-up with the small compact she keeps in her clutch. The loudspeaker rasped out Grand Central. She reapplied the blood orange lipstick and stepped over the gap and into the terminal.
Now she sits, squirming on that hard ledge. It felt nothing like their last night together. The cool breeze from the passing summer storm brought a germinative relief through the open window of her apartment. Even the tattered curtains that danced about seemed buoyed with hope. How comfortable that spoon felt. How soft his kisses were. How strong his hands held her. How uncomfortable it was when he left.
Another train rolls in and pulls her back to the present, another champagne pop of passengers. Rubbing her shoes together causes a scuff she tries getting out with a little spit on the handkerchief that she wears around her arm. She can’t have him see her like this. She stands on the ledge hoping the extra height will cause him to appear like a white rabbit out of a magician’s hat. It doesn’t as she nearly topples over.
She begins to pace. Nerves and the cold will do that to a person. With each step she takes questions creep into her head. Maybe he missed the train? Or maybe it was delayed? What if he changed his mind? What if, what if…the questions go round and round without answers, because there is only one. She looks at her watch. It’s late. The handkerchief around her wrist becomes soaked with tears and mascara. She rises and tries to walk out, but instead collapses her head landing on the ledge. “What’s happening?” she says to the ceiling lights shining down at her. “It’s just that I haven’t eaten…yes, that’s it,” she tells herself. “I’ll just rest a bit, close my eyes. Then he’ll be here and everything will be alright. He’ll be here…I just know it.”
A small crowd forms around her prone body. A policeman writes in his notebook. Age. Name. Address. Who is she? What is she doing here? They open her clutch but find only the compact and lipstick. A man in uniform pushes his way through the crowd. He drops the bouquet he was carrying on the ground. “Do you know her?” someone asks. He answers, “I do.” He sits next to her cradling her lifeless head. The passengers disperse and continue their trip leaving these three alone in the corridor. A whistle sounds as another train approaches.