The Story Of Us

I am getting on a train and you’re out there waiting on the platform, a strap of your bag hanging from your right shoulder and another before you, headphones on and a look of excitement in your eyes. You’re cute, I give you that, with your almond-shaped eyes and marshmallow cheeks that you keep on filling with air. I sit down on the line seats that face the window where you can be clearly seen, remaining to be oblivious of the chaotic scenes unfurling behind you; someone lost their ticket, children running around, students lining up the scanner, and workers milling about, on their way home.

It’s 4:00 and I am on my way home, too. How about you? I wonder as the train starts to beep, a warning for everyone to start boarding. Someone shifts beside me and I look over to see a young girl eating a chocolate bar, her face dirty, and a toothy grin plastered on her face, with which I also return. When I look back at where you stood, you have disappeared from my line of sight and the train starts to move. I have to admit, when I was watching, you looked so wanderlust I can imagine your muscles taut from waiting for a friend who’s probably running late, eager to get on board and travel to where you want to go. But where?

This is the city composed of skyscrapers that tower all the others, cars that horn every minute to get the traffic moving, billboards looming above flyovers, and bridges connecting separated islands from the mainland. Where could you possibly want to go?

As the train slows to a stop, I look at the station sign. This is me. Standing up, I adjust my sling bag behind me and step off, the rush of air greeting me with a force that I had not anticipated and therefore blew my hair around, covering my face. The struggle is real as I clip my hair into a ponytail, and I could have left it hanging for all I care when someone bumps me from behind, throwing me off my step and I could have fallen down had it not be for the strong grip on my arm. I could have shouted, I could have cursed, but when I looked around, I saw you.

The boy from the platform. You were holding my arm.

I can faintly hear you mumbling a series of “sorry” and see the look of concern in your eyes. You help me straighten up and flashed a sheepish smile, your free hand consciously rubbing the nape of your neck. But I guess I looked too blank because you started to wave your hand in front of me, like what people do in movies when one isn’t paying close attention.

I liked the way you laughed at me when I finally snapped out of it. I wanted to get mad because there was nothing funny about being caught starstruck. But when your laugh reached my ears, it wasn’t mockery but hesitant amusement. It was clear that you didn’t want to laugh but you did anyway, and I’m fine with that.

But there is something familiar about it. Too familiar that it stirs my heart. Faintly, but it’s there.

Growing up in a world where fairy tales were the center of inspiration, romantic comedies as an uplift and sappy novels as the ultimate reading material, I wondered if the statistical probability of love at first sight is high enough to become a reason for the way some people feel. The world has always been defined by infinite numbers, twisting its way into our lives, constantly pushing us over the edge of the cliff where we teeter and worry about things that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place.

And then I remember you.

Memories burst through the dams that have been holding it back, flowing like a body of water that has been held back long enough.

You were the boy who gave me mud pies when we were little, topping them off with fallen flowers that littered the little front yard of your house; the boy who ran across the road each day to knock on my door, only to be answered by my mom who answered your questions about where I was and if I wanted to play; the same boy who taught me how to ride a bike, who picked me up when I fell down and would disappear like the Flash to get the First Aid Kit. A few years later, we became the awkward teenagers who simply grew apart, slowly by slowly, until you didn’t walk to school with me anymore, didn’t play the board games we were used to on Friday night because you were always too busy with a new video game. You softened my heart when you asked me to eat with you one night at our favorite diner, back when we were kids, and ordered the same berry cobblers just like 10 years ago and talked until the sun started to peek over the horizon and you walked me home to a blissful Saturday morning. I thought I would never forget prom night, where you asked me to be your date at the last-minute, wearing a sheepish smile that showed your dimples.

And then you disappeared after graduation. Like a popped bubble, where it vanishes without a trace.

Now you’re back and the stir in my heart becomes a leap and I can feel my eyes brimming with tears. I involuntarily take a step forward.

You look me in the eyes with your big brown ones, and a smile begins to form. You adjust the strap of your bag awkwardly, bringing me to an 8th grade memory where you convinced me of chivalry by taking my bag and hiking it up your other shoulder.

I’ve forgotten how much I missed you.

You take a step closer, and whispered, as if reading my mind and answering it, “I missed you too.”

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