Title: Love Letters To A Stranger (One Shot)
Notes: This is just a little something I threw together tonight. Let me know what you think!
Every time the doors opened to allow another stream of riders onto the car, he hoped that she would be there. Most days she was, in her long bubble gum pink coat with the shiny black shoulder bag on her right side. She always got in the last car and turned to the left and took a seat whilst pulling a book from her bag. That’s what had caught his eye the first day. She always had a book, not an e-reader like so many commuters. Sometimes she would sit and place the book on her lap. Her little hands would clasp it for a minute, as if she was making herself wait and enjoying the anticipation.
How he loved to watch her read! Unlike the other stoic and expressionless readers on the train, her face always mirrored whatever she feeling. Smiles, little gasps, stifled giggles. The first time she brushed away a tear, he almost flew to her side like a careening pigeon. She had closed her eyes for a few seconds and shut the book quickly. It was a hardcover and the sharp snap of the pages being pressed so swiftly together could be heard through the train car. He waited to see what she would do next. She was still. Some time passed. She brushed away another tear. When she opened the book again, he guessed that she must have re-read the offending passage; a few more tears slipped down her cheeks and she was shaking her head ever so slightly.
He starting writing them on the evening he saw her for the second time. After all, what better way to prepare for a role as a writer than to write? He scratched out the words in pencil on yellow lined paper, tearing off the sheets and putting them in envelopes with the date on them. Remembering how obsessively he had drafted and edited papers at university, he forced himself to just write and not erase anything, letting the little squiggles of communication flow out of his pencil like an open tap.
“My beautiful bluestocking” began each letter. Sometimes they were poems, sometimes descriptions of his day and what he had observed about her on that particular evening. Sometimes he wrote pages and pages about what how they would spend their time together, if it actually occurred. Sometimes he included bits from Shakespeare or silly literary puns that he thought might make her laugh. By the end of the first week, the contents changed. He began to include things about himself. Personal issues, fears, goals, and desires all found their way onto the page. He hadn’t begun the experiment with the intent of self-discovery, but it was a delightful development.
As the days went by, he found himself thinking about her more and more. What was her favorite food? Where did she work? She rarely spoke to anyone on the train, preferring instead to keep her nose in a book. When he heard her voice for the first time, the non-descript American accent didn’t surprise him. Although he couldn’t quite figure out how, he knew she was from across the pond.
When the two week mark rolled around and he realized that tomorrow would be the last day of his commitment and he would be off on his next one, a cloud of melancholy settled on him as he wrote the final letter. Surprised to find himself feeling as if he was saying goodbye to a friend even though he didn’t know her name, he made an impulsive decision to attempt to give them to her. He reasoned with himself that she would be flattered. What woman wouldn’t be flattered to receive love letters from a stranger? She wouldn’t think it was strange, surely. No, no, he told himself. She would be pleased. A woman who enjoyed reading as much as she did would appreciate what he had done. Yes, she would be pleased. If she wasn’t, he would never see again.
That caused little pangs of something he couldn’t identify to shoot through his heart, but he simply shook it off. Folding the pages carefully and placing them into the envelope, he wrote the date on the front and then took the stack and deposited them into a paper bag.
When the doors opened the next day and she wasn’t there, he expected to feel marginally relieved. He would be spared the potential awkwardness of presenting her with such an unusual tribute. But it wasn’t relief he felt. It was disappointment. And something else. Longing?
He was trying to make sense of that when the doors opened at the next stop and a familiar pink blur entered the train with several other riders.
Now it was elation that sparked across his skin. She was just at a different stop for some reason.
He tried to make his long legs move in her direction, but they were stubbornly refusing. Suddenly the idea of rejection entered his mind. What if she looked at him like he was crazy? What if she got up and moved to another seat? What if she accepted the bag warily and then dumped them into the rubbish right as she exited the train?
All of these thoughts and more were swirling around in his mind and he realized that his stop was next. He willed his limbs to move and slowly made his way to her.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to disturb you. My name’s Tom. I’m an actor.”
He immediately feels ridiculous, like a gangly youth talking to his first girl.
She smiles at him, the rows of bright white teeth flashing between plump red lips.
“My name isn’t Tom and I’m not an actor.”
“These are for you.”
He offers her the bag.
She takes it.
“Goodbye,” he says, the train coming to a stop and the doors opening.
“Wait,” she calls out to him before he steps onto the platform. “What’s in the bag?”
“Love letters to a stranger.”