When Alexis falls for a straight girl, she knows the outcome won't be pretty....
|There was a girl on the subway today.|
This isn't the sort of thing you usually mention. I realize how unconventional it is of me to begin here, but how can I help myself – when I looked at her something moved in the base of my spine. Pardon
my melodrama, but my eyes almost teared to watch her. There was a sorrow in her face that was hidden, hidden behind this smile that I've always wished I could have.
You're totally lost, right? I thought so. I'm watching the pen move under my hand and I'm lost too. I've only been here for a month or two, and the house still smells like new apartment. They've painted
over all the outlets, so the first night after I'd finished moving my bed and desk around the room to try and make it look like there was more to the space, I spent the rest of the time picking at my electrical outlets with metal. Isn't that what they tell you never to do? Maybe I have a death wish after all.
But I have electricity!
The city is dark, and full of rain. They tell me Philadelphia isn't always like this, that it's just the season, but I can't help but feel stifled by the chill East-coast wind. It's like the city is a pitbull, and the buildings that tower over me are the teeth of a maw I can't see. The wind that howls between them, damp and full of dirty river-rain, is the putrid breath of the dog that is hunkered down here, laying on its gut between the Delaware and the Schuylkill and glowering over at New Jersey. I feel like I'm going to be swallowed at any moment. It's damn scary and I hate it. But what choice was there? Pittsburg would have been just as bad, and at least here I can feel like I made something of myself. I mean, hell, I got into UPenn. And who would have figured that smart-mouthed Alexis was going to get into a school like that?
But that's not the point. I saw a chick on the subway train today.
Philadelphia has terrible public transport, the kind that makes you feel the distinct urge to vomit. I've never smelled wet hobo, but if there were a place that could be seeped for "essence of hobo" this
would be it. I told Rick that, and you know what he said? He tells me, "Oh yeah, I can just see it now. Essence of Hobo!" Then the guy turns his head to the left, all dramatic, and strikes this POSE that I swear had my gut in knots I was laughing so hard. He pooches out his lips a little, y'know, and lifts his eyebrows with these 'soulful' eyes – that's what he calls it, this stupid face he makes – and whispers, "Can't you just see him, standing there on a hill? And the camera pans up, and a velvet voice says, "Ah, Essence of Hobo". And here he paused for a second, and the snickers started. "And then he looks up at you,
with these murky, sad eyes, and says – Aicakdgiangylupdeeg!"
I think I died.
Anyway, I was busy contemplating the essence of hobo on the subway, which is made even worse in the rain, when I saw her. I've never seen anyone in the city wear a white jacket before. It's like asking to
have some guy vomit on you, or an ignorant cabbie splash dirty city water all over you. But somehow this particular girl looked as though that kind of thing never happened to her. Her hands were tucked into her jacket pockets tritely, the thumbs – grey gloved – folded over the pocket as she walked, and the high collar close against her neck. The damn jacket had to be suede, or something, but she looked as clean pressed and pristine as if the sun were out and she weren't standing in the dirtiest, smelliest underground hovel in the city. For a second I stared at her profile, feeling ashamed of my own battered black raincoat and scuffed boots. Even my gray dress slacks looked tattered compared to this girl's look. What the hell was she wearing, Escada?! I almost spoke up, almost said something when the train thundered down the track, effectively silencing me. No point screaming over screeching brakes, it really wasn't…..well. It wouldn't work. I stopped myself, and as the windows rattled by me I could only note
with mortification that I was blushing – significantly, too. Glancing back at Chick-in-Coat, I watched the corners of the white fabric flutter against her pale skin, the strands of black hair, pulled back in a short ponytail, whipping over her cheek and sliding across the ruffled fabric. I've never seen anyone look so in control, as though even the wind in the dirty train station was somehow keyed to her presence.
We embarked; I sat, she didn't. I watched her face, noted the slight look of displeasure as one gloved hand gripped the silver metal. She didn't need to hold on to it for balance, I felt sure. She would have
stood regardless of help and in spite of her three inch black heels.
It would have gone better if she hadn't caught me staring. I'd grabbed a Metro – you know, world's stupidest excuse for a real newspaper ever – and was peering over the green type at her. The scent of those papers is pretty distinct, you can't mistake it, and I always wondered if that was the green ink….or me. But over this green ink is how she caught me staring, the dark eyes only glancing at me once. Once was enough. I was shocked, surprised, somehow saddened by the look she gave me, as though all of my existence had been summed up in that simple snap of her eyes. But I wasn't sure, it was not the kind of glare you get from someone who has dismissed you; no, to describe it that way would be unfair of me. This elegant debutante who stared me down on the subway didn't reject me – she simply judged me. I'm not sure what's worse.
I stopped staring. I buried my head in the Metro and pretended to read, but then it occurred to me that she would judge that, too. Suddenly embarrassed by the paper, I flung it away and folded my arms over my chest, letting my head drop down as I feigned sleep. Two stops passed. Three. When I finally drew up enough courage to look, as I rose from my place to get off, she was gone.
The rain outside seemed colder now, somehow, and I pulled my coat higher around my shoulders, ducking my head as I dashed for the apartment. The door creak was loud, condemning, and even the narrow, crooked hallway seemed to say that this was all I deserved, and how dare I stare with that much lust at a woman wearing Escada? Up the steps, forever up – four flights – and into the tiny apartment I share with Rick. He glanced at me perfunctorially, informed me I looked like shit.
I went into the bedroom and closed the door….and cried.
About a girl I saw on the subway.