On the Amtrak platform in Texarkana, a stout woman with a marine haircut and a nose stud is saying goodbye to a willowy, exotic woman with olive skin and long, straight black hair. I can’t hear what they’re saying, but the short-haired woman’s face is suffused with tenderness, or with the desire for tenderness, or maybe just pleading.
The long-haired woman’s face says clearly that she can stand about two more minutes of this kind of thing before she starts saying what she really thinks. It’s a good thing the train is coming.
Short-hair pulls long-hair in for a hug, and long-hair does not quite resist. Short-hair squeezes her eyes shut, like a mother saying goodbye to her only child. The look is at odds with her jean jacket, tank top, and ratty cargo pants. It is the most pathetic thing in the world.
Short-hair and I board two separate train cars. I can’t see long-hair as we pull away from the station, but I can imagine her sigh of relief as the tension lifts. Maybe she brushes down her clothes, briskly, to remove the residue of desperation.
I can imagine short-hair, too, sitting in her blue vinyl seat and staring out the window as the station recedes; seeing not the scenery but her memories of the weekend, searching each conversation for evidence of intimacy, and finding just enough to keep false hope alive.
Saving it up for the catastrophe later.