Fear of Flying
Suggested Listening: Bowery Electric. “Fear of Flying,” Beat, Album, 1996.
He is reading a paperback novel on the inbound train.
Four rows of green vinyl seats prevent her from seeing the cover. Still, she cannot help but wonder about the younger man’s book. She cannot help but wonder about him.
He reads one page and glances up. Their eyes meet. He looks away. He reads one page and glances up. Their eyes meet. Measured, he looks away.
He gazes out the window, two rugged fingers gracing his chin. Condensation is spreading between double-paned glass. Condensation soils his view of the sunrise spreading across the great lake.
He reads one page and glances up at her. Their eyes meet. He looks away.
He is contemplative once again, immersed in the landscape, a littered shoreline bathed in a yellow filtered haze.
She pays the conductor, coins clinking. The younger man pauses to watch the exchange.
He reads one page and glances up at her. Their eyes meet. He looks away, this reimagined James Dean, this Marlon Brando rebranded for a soiled age.
He reads one page and glances up at her. Their eyes meet. They hold each other’s prolonged gaze.
Embarrassed, she looks away, studying the cityscape. She glances back to watch the younger man read one page, but he is reading her instead — a dance they repeat every morning on the inbound train.
She longs for the romance of her youth. He yearns for the freedoms she must have enjoyed. A generation is wedged between them, their curiosity tempered by two decades.
He reads one page and glances up at her. Their eyes meet. Two expressionless people, feigning indifference, look away.
They consider the passing scenery, imagining where each other lives. They envision themselves on a Triumph motorcycle, riding through a mountain range, catching the wind.
He reads one page and glances up at her. Always reluctant, they look away.
One day, she will immortalize him with words. One day, he will read that page.
Text copyright © 2022 by Eva Newcastle