It was Wednesday and I was walking home in a hurry with my hood tucked over my eyes to hide my yoga hair. I was two minutes from my block when a stranger in a baseball cap and a headset stopped me in my tracks. My eyes had been facing down the whole way uptown and my oblivion had taken me down a street I don’t normally choose. But when I looked up and saw a camera and a crowd and the makings of a set, my mind started to race and so did my heart.
The lights shone onto the bricks of the surrounding buildings and onto the intersection that touches the edges of my neighborhood and maybe this was your shoot and that was my first thought and I was mad at my mind for taking me there. Maybe you were standing across the street and maybe that was your red hood peeking out but I didn’t know for sure because I couldn’t see that far. And what a horrible thought that you might be that close without me knowing.
When they called cut and I was allowed to cross again, I kept moving and did my best to avert my eyes. In my last few steps through the set, I saw a silhouette that reminded me of yours. And it left me with the worst feeling and so I kept walking. I tucked my hands into my pockets and moved my feet as fast as I could without turning my stride into a run. I squeezed my keys so tightly into my right hand that they left a mark against my skin. And I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t you that I had seen and so when I made it back to my front door, I let out a sigh of relief laced with a bit of my reemerged sorrow. I set my things onto the kitchen table, I let my hair down and took a shower to wash away any last trace of the thought.
When I had to leave again, my hair was still wet but I tied it up and wore my oversized green scarf in hopes to counteract the cold. I sped by those same white trailers on my way to the train around the corner from my apartment. And when I was safely underground, I took a wrong turn because that underpass confuses me every time. But I found my way after a few minutes of pacing and rushed steps in the wrong direction and a shout from a man loitering between where I was and where I needed to be.
I climbed the stairs to the downtown train and a wave of warmth crashed over my body, making me regret the number of layers I had chosen for the quick trip. I could tell by the size of the crowd that the train hadn’t come in a while and so I found something to read that could take my mind away from the delay. I stayed back against the staircase because I wasn’t in a rush to press myself in between stacks of strangers.
I scrolled and skimmed and looked up after every other paragraph. And when the announcements came through the way they always do and the muffled voice tried its best to tell us something, I looked up out of habit and to peel a layer of scarf away from my face. I tucked it under my arm and around my bag and that’s when my eyes caught something that felt like you again. And that’s when my skin started to burn and change its hue. My body stayed put but my mind did all it could to flee.
I focused on reading the words that sat in the palm of my hand but my eyes weren’t listening to any of what was shining back up at them. And I didn’t know how long to wait before I could confirm what I thought I had seen. The dark green pillar took away half of your face and I was left to wonder if the rest of what was hidden was a match. But I didn’t spend much time trying to figure it out because if that was you, then you must have seen me too. So before I could write up an alternate ending or look for an excuse to inch closer towards a hello that would never come, the train’s approach interrupted every hypothetical I had designed. And it was the sound of the F turned M that outweighed the noise filling my head and I didn’t try to stop it this time. What else was there to do except stand there and try not to let the space between us knock me down again.