When she boarded the streetcar, it was sort of snowing, and sort of raining.
She had never been on this route before. And yet, it felt very familiar to her because she was on her way to see him.
Speeding in one direction, on track, no side quests.
It was all very familiar and hard to believe it had been 5 years since she’d heard from him.
She could have messaged him, of course – he’d said over and over again that she should.
But when you’re impossibly infatuated with someone who is unavailable, it’s just easier to stay away.
But that was 5 years ago, she thought, as she boarded and paid the fare. She smiled at the driver who didn’t notice her. She made a point to not take it personally.
She took her seat, as far away from any other passenger as she could manage, as this was going to be a long ride.
The windows were dirty and the sun was going down. Some storefronts had their Christmas lights up already – they burned through the gunk on the windows and vaguely showed her where she was going, like stars guiding a lost sailor.
Stars that were long dead and extinguished, but their light still travelled across the Universe, showing travellers the way.
Five stops sailed by.
Five years was a bloody long time, she thought. She curated a highlight reel in her mind, all the things she’d accomplished, her travels, her romances, her breakthroughs, her new life. There was a lot to catch up on.
She had forgotten him, if only because he’d forgotten her.
But now he’s called, from out of nowhere, from out of town, and he’s back for a minute and wants to see – of all things and people – her.
That doesn’t sound like someone who’s forgotten you. It sounds like someone who’s forgotten to tell you they divorced the woman that stood between the two of you all those years ago.
On stop 7, a large man boarded and took the seat next to her. She politely went deeper into the murky window.
And all of a sudden, another familiar feeling – one she had almost forgotten, re-materialized.
She was trapped, between a man-spreader and a dirty window.
It was that familiar prison between longing and dread.
Dread that the longing she felt for him wouldn’t be reciprocated.
She could turn back. Text him, say something sudden came back. Say the indecisive weather forced the streetcar to breakdown and ruin everything. Say that the heavy-breathing man sitting next to her had a heart attack and died, slumped on her shoulder.
But she didn’t text. And the breather kept breathing.
She counted her stops, pulled the chord and sounded the bell to announce she was getting off.
When she rose, the man-spreader tilted his giant leg trunks slightly and she brushed by his thigh. She said thank-you to the unresponsive driver and hopped out.
Outside again. Finally, she could breathe.
It was snowing now – the weather had made up its mind. Good, she thought, the snowflakes will look pretty in her dark hair when she meets him.
The streetcar sped off onto its next destination as she got her bearings in the unfamiliar neighborhood. The snow covered the streetcar tracks, like it was never there. Gone like a time machine that had hurtled her back in time 5 years and now she was completely alone in the expanding darkness.
Why did she even pick this restaurant? She had no idea where she was going.
It would be okay, she told herself. Whatever happens, happens. Sometimes you just don’t know. But that’s when the best moments happen.
At times like this, you only need to hold onto one familiar thing.
For the past 5 years, when she was alone and it was often hard, she remembered the things he would say to her, the laughs they had, and the confidence he helped her find in herself. She remembered thinking what a good person he was and how sweetly he’d talk her down and build her up, and whenever it felt like all humans were absolute crap, she’d remind herself that no they aren’t – he’s living proof.
The only thing she had to know was she was on her way to see him.
Like so many times before.
Like it was yesterday.
The only question left was if that star was still alive and burning, or if it was just the light travelling through space and time coming out to meet her.