The mundane world before me kept chugging along the tracks, heading nowhere, just as my legs took me. I blankly watched the final train arrive, the late hour and darkened planet simply adding to the desire of leaving the black and white void of the workplace and returning to the comfort of my own home. I could just feel the warmth of the open fire sink deep into my skin, the enticing sensation of the oversized furry blanket wrapped snugly around my aching shoulders as my exhausted form fades into the softest sofa that has ever been in my possession; the smell of burning wood, the sight of long shadows cast across the room, the sound of the crackling fire, the taste of hot tea running down my throat…
The high pitched trill, warning passengers to stand clear of those fearsome doors that might just gobble you up if you get too close, brought me back to earth.
How very disappointing.
I suddenly realised I was already on the train.
‘I don’t remember getting on…’
I saw my feet were locked firmly into the hard floor and noticed my dominant hand weakly clung for dear life to the handles dangling teasingly from the ceiling. I believe I zoned out for a while and let my body take me wherever I needed to go, yet the whole shock of the situation still left me a little startled. After gulping what little saliva remained in my stale, empty mouth, I sighed deeply, the large window facing me entrapping my breath and steaming up the glass.
That’s when I noticed him.
A similar age to myself, right beside me, a clear native, and falling asleep while standing up. The drowsy clown in monochrome suit and tie made my head cock to one side and let a single puff of laughter escape through my nose. His raven bob literally did so from his head’s sudden jerks as he attempted to stay awake. When his eyes were open, the fatigue was all too visible, yet the deep and exotic colour had an interesting appeal in which I couldn’t turn away. There were certainly a few times when the young man nearly fell to the floor, but his hand grasped a handle resembling my own which kept him upright. He would occasionally groan, grunt, snort and squeak as he tried his best not to enter the realm of slumber, which, for some peculiar reason, I found rather sweet.
A sudden urge to take him home overwhelmed me. I wanted to sit with him by my open fire, maybe snuggle into him like a big, friendly bear, and let him wrap his arms around my waist as I rest against his chest and toy with his pitch black bangs. I wanted to make him tea and let him spend the night on my sofa with me, the two of us cocooned in tender textile, where the only thing to worry about is sleep.
I wanted him… wanted him with me.
Just him and me.
Both of these tired-out souls finally able to relax and simply let our worries fade away.
“Excuse me, miss…” a baritone voice called out back in the real world. I soon realised I had been staring at the poor man the entire time. I shook my head abruptly and felt the blood under my face catch fire and set my cheeks alight.
“Please forgive my utter rudeness! I am terribly sorry for staring!” I cried, bowing to the gentleman next to me as is the way of this very country I’d moved to.
“It’s quite arright. It’s my own faurt for trying to comprete arr of my work in a singre day,” he said, turning his head away as a glint of shame shone in his cocoa shades of shadowy darkness and mystery.
“But you should be pleased that you are such a hard worker; so many others these days don’t seem to understand the benefits of good, honest work,” I ranted, but soon acknowledged I was doing so and slowly ground my speech to a halt. Yet at the words that rose from my heart to my lips, the young man’s head turned back to face me once more, his slender eyebrows revealing his pure surprise.
“How wonderfur it is to see such a fine young woman, who is knowredgeabre in the worrd of work, in sis day and age…” he remarked impressively, my cheeks beginning to radiate my hot embarrassment more and more with every word he spoke. And spoke to me.
“T-Thank you very much, sir…” I stuttered awkwardly, the two of us sharing a quaint little smile. Yet the train turned on the tracks abruptly, catapulting my form into the chest of the kind man before me, his protective arms catching me from a terrible fall.
How very embarrassing.
Yet how intoxicating his scent.
And how calming his heartbeat against my cheekbone.
How soothing his presence.
How sturdy his chest and torso.
How enticing his firm yet gentle grip around my waist.
“My name is Honda Kiku,” he said through a chuckle. Keeping my face pressed against his chest, I tilted my head up to meet his comforting eyes. How remarkable his faint smile.
“I’m [Last name] [Name]. It’s very nice to meet you… Honda-san…” I slowed, soon noticing the stares we were receiving from the majority of the other passengers. They looked upon our forms in close proximity with horror, disgust, fear, disappointment, shame.
Yet this man was different.
He turned his head away from their torturing stares and gazed out of the window that was nearly pressed up against us, resting his soft, dough-like cheek atop my head and carefully pulled my waist closer to him, causing me to release a faint noise of surprise.
“Don’t rook at sem, you wirr onry encourage sem…” he whispered silently into my [colour] hair, his breath warm and sending little shivers across my skin. In an attempt of moral support in this rather unusual situation, I grasped the back of his suit in my tired fists, the soft fabric soothing under my nails. Yet one question plagued my mind:
“Why do you still hold me, Honda-san?” I asked, feeling as small and as pathetic as an infant with my ludicrous yet eager question. “We’ve only just met…”
“Yes, but I certainry don’t want to ret you go.”
My breath hitched.
My heart stopped.
‘Such a beautiful man, did he just say something so enchanting… to me?’
I was about to reply to his stunning words when my station was called and the train slowed to rest. I nuzzled my face deeper into his chest and mumbled quietly, “I don’t want to go…”
Silence. Then his arms did just what I didn’t want to happen, followed by the hurried rustle of paper and the frantic scribble of ink.
“This is my number… here,” he said, handing me a small, creased and torn segment of notepaper. I took it carefully from his grasp, bowed politely and cantered off the train briskly, moments before those menacing doors spat me out into the cold and devoured Honda-san, separating us. I turned and peered longingly through the glass in the doors, our eyes meeting tenderly for the final time that day. The hungry beast growled into life and searched for its next meal, my eyes never leaving his as the train left me alone, cold and without him on the platform. I looked at his elegant handwriting once more, tracing his numbers with my fingertips – the ink staining them – and reciting the code of communication. I cradled it against my chest like a child and solemnly left the station, yet I felt a faint glimmer of hope, knowing that I may indeed take him home, sit with him by my open fire, maybe snuggle into him like a big, friendly bear, and let him wrap his arms around my waist one more time as I rest against his chest and toy with his pitch black bangs. That I may make him tea and let him spend the night on my sofa with me, the two of us cocooned in tender textile, where the only thing to worry about is sleep.
I will see him again.