Looking at the person beside you by looking away

by hexacoto


We got on the same car together, via different doors. We were on different benches, but our reflections were on the same window. There was no one between us, but it didn’t matter: even though I was not facing you, I could look at you through your reflection on the window on the opposite side.

Even though I could turn my head to look at you, I could only bear to do so by staring ahead, away from you, looking straight at your reflection.

Were you looking back at mine?

We spent the next fifteen minutes in this way, both reflections apparently raptly staring into the same inky blackness of the window.

The train surfaces from the depths for a shot of fresh air and sunshine, as it clangs and rattles on the Manhattan bridge. Daylight flushes the inky blackness of the window away, and your reflection with it, as people around us clamour for their cell phone at this brief respite of phone service. Neither you nor I moved, just sat on our benches silently staring at the dirty window ahead.

The train plunged back into darkness, and you were there again.

I tried to study your features, but you were so far away, seated in that other ethereal cabin. I wish I were my reflection, that I could sit next to your reflection, but he would probably be thinking the same thing, and staring at you instead.

The train pulled into Canal St, and you and your reflection got up, and left.

I could then fall back into repose, into sweetest coma again.