Short Story Friday: Metro Smiles

 

Sitting on those uncomfortable metals seats brought back unwanted memories to my mind. The drilling vibration on the side of my head never let me focus quite enough to be able to understand one hundred percent of the things happening around me. Usually, I tried to sleep away my frustrations of having to both feel and smell of sardines, but I remember that day. That particular day on the metro, made me smile.

As any other given day, I struggled to find a seat so, I stood there holding on the upper handle trying so hard not to let my nose fall until the next stop. We all abruptly shook a bit from the metro stopping and in less than seconds, the multitude of people leaving got instantly replaced. But by blissful luck, or just repeating the same routine every single day twice trained me, I found a seat. That bliss lasted for about a millisecond because soon again I was feeling canned. You know those metal rods they put around you in amusements parks? I don’t, but if I did, I’m sure it would feel exactly like this.

The doors closed and everyone ceremoniously waited for the conductor's announcement. And, as part of an unspoken ritual, everyone started talking. As always it was too loud to hear anything except those next to you so I simply started to observe. The usual batch of people: the cellphone addicts, the “I know I’m late, but I’m still going to glance at my watch every minute” workers, the frustrated drummer, old people, and bratty kids. Except this one was sitting quite still while his mother, or so it seemed, sat across him talking on the phone. You could really see the relief on his face from being able to sit. You could tell he’d been walking or playing from his clothes.

The next stop came quickly. The doors closed so rapidly that the bouquet an old man was holding almost got caught in them. He was breathless and, apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed, the little kid noticed him, got up and smiling signaled him to sit where he was. The old man was beaming. The boy kept staring at the beautiful bouquet while holding the rim of his cellphone addicted mother’s jeans.

“Do you like them?” said the old man

The boy shyly, but quickly nodded.

“They’re for my wife. I couldn’t find gardenias so, I got these instead.”

“I’m sure those will make her smile.”

“Yeah, they will.”

“Where is she?”

“My wife? Oh, she's right around one hundred and fifteen Rose Avenue.”

The sudden stop of the metro ended the conversation. As soon as the doors opened the mother, who may I say still was on the phone, grabbed the little kid and started to head out.

“I’ll talk to her about you.” Lastly, he said leaving a smile on boy’s face as they left.

 

Now I was the one staring at that bouquet of camellias. It was beautiful, you could tell he spent time looking at details. Maybe that’s why he was late…

~

A few stops later, the metro was pretty much empty. The old man smiled while staring at the electronic sign: “NEXT STOP: ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN ROSE AVENUE.” Smiling he got close to the door. He was still smiling when they flew open. As I stared at him through the window I couldn’t help but smile too. The kind of bittersweet smile where you feel your eyes water.

There it was.

“Rose Avenue Community Cemetery”