Promise

Promise


He sat at the back of the crowded tram, out of view and out of mind. No one looked at him, noticed him, he was just one of those indistinguishable people that blended into the background. Not a person, but a prop. Middle age, slightly round and wearing a suit, he looked like any other businessman going to work on a weekday morning. Except he wasn’t going to work. He was waiting. He combed his fingers through his balding hair and wiped his sweaty palms on his pants. One more stop. He knew what was coming, he could feel it inside him as his pulse quickened and his body became erect in high alert, in anticipation. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead as the tram slowed, stopped, and the wild currents of people came swarming in and out of the open doors. They pulsated, as if of one body, one entity; ripples of human flesh as they bobbed up and down through the packed car. He remained seated where he was, eyes darting among the mass of faces and bodies as he clenched his fists and waited.

He saw her then. She was a tiny thing, petite in every way from her short pale lashes and rosy puckered lips to her lacy white socks and little buttoned shoes. His eyes slid up the length of her young body; she was still just a girl, yet through the thin material of her school uniform he could see the small raised lumps sprouting determinedly on her blossoming chest and the subtle curve of her hips beginning to mature out of their boyish form. He yearned to touch her, to hold her in his arms as she writhed and struggled against him. He imagined embracing her delicate shoulders, so thin and fragile and wonderful and pressing her soft body to his hard one. Breathing in through his nostrils he could almost smell her light fragrance, sweet and supple, like the scent of a new baby, as he rested his face on top of her smooth hair. These desires frightened him. He was so unsure and confused, plagued by the mysteries of his own longings, he questioned himself: did he see her as a woman or as something else entirely? He knew not what compelled him to her, only that he was suffering, beaten, everyday by her presence and his own self-inflicted torture.

If only, he thought, if only I could understand. He stood abruptly and started walking toward her, started his descent into the unknown. If I knew why, it could be fixed, I would be fixed. He shoved the passengers around him, in his way, and paid no heed to their cries of protest. His eyes were only on her, engrossed and overwhelmed with her and his conflicting emotions. I just need her-he was close, she was in arms reach, he held his breath as her tantalizing visage came nearer and nearer still-I just need to-

Suddenly the tram halted. The human current resumed and she was lost. Gone was she from his sight and his reach as the moment shattered and passed and reality recommenced. He retreated to his seat in the back once again and from the window watched her scurry away toward the flurry of people busy with their lives. He whispered to the window- to her- his warm breath forming a faint cloud on the cold glass. And just then, on cue, she turned as if called. He sucked in his breath and waited for her to see him, for her eyes to meet his and notice the man in the window watching her. But she didn’t and in an instant twisted back and disappeared into the crowd. That one moment of awareness, coincidence or not, seemed to him just like a promise of tomorrow.

 

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