The 9:10 commuter train heading back to Boston squealed to a stop. I bent down to hug her, her wiry wisps of arms reaching up ‘round my waist, that perfect pixie face pressed against my side. I told her I loved her, turned and dared not look back.
I stepped aboard and took a seat. Clambering over my carry-on, I put a hand on the window and looked out.
There she was on the platform, scanning the dark-tinted windows—all but opaque to her—like a sailor craning to make out a speck on the distant horizon. For an instant, I thought our eyes might have met, but she looked right through me.
A deep desolation pulled me down, the kind a dear, departed spirit must feel when fully present with, yet unnoticed by, a loved one revisited.
The train jerked into motion. Still delving the dark, blank windows, she walked along just beside me, barely keeping up. Now I pressed both hands and my whole face against the glass, grinning, waving, weeping.
And then she saw me. Our eyes locked, the gulf between us suddenly narrowed nearly to arms’ length. Beside me she ran, faster and faster, her limbs a spritely fusion of flailing and grace…and she beamed.
I turned, looked back, and those few seconds swept her from my view. But that image, that sense of being at once so far and so close to that sweet girl, will stay with me until I am once again on that magic train…and I am the one looking through that dark window for a glimpse of her.