Theme: fictionalize your first encounter with another GMGM author.
Strangers On A Train (Except Without the Whole Murder Pact Thing)
It started like any other day. I woke up and got myself ready for work. I listened to a new-to-me How Did This Get Made? on the way to the Metro, trying desperately not to laugh out loud but failing miserably. The trains were running behind again, but I wasn’t too concerned. It wasn’t too cold or too windy, and I still had plenty of time to get to work without being late, either fashionably or otherwise.
I saw her sitting on one of the benches on the platform, a small wheeled suitcase pressed into the side of her boots. She looked tired and confused– what I’d call the classic Tourist Face. She wore a long woolen coat that looked incredibly comfortable and warm and a pretty patterned scarf. I thought she was staring at nothing at first, then I noticed the rail map directly across from her. Her eyes darted this way and that across the stops on the map.
Another lost soul on the blue line.
Normally, I talk to exactly zero people on the Metro unless it’s to say, “Is that seat open?” or “Excuse me, this is my stop.” But today, for some reason, I felt like being, for lack of a better word, nice.
I paused Jason Mantzoukas right in the middle of whatever filthy thing he was saying and removed one earbud. “You need some help?”
She smiled, relieved. “You’re the first person to ask me that this morning. I’m trying to get to Chinatown.” She had a little bit of an accent, something soft and European. I smiled back, because it seemed like she needed it and because smiling is what I do.
“You’re on the right track,” I replied without realizing my accidental pun. I cringed without thinking, but she laughed. She must have been exhausted. I pointed to the side of the platform where I was just standing. “You’ll get on a yellow line train here. I’m going that way too if you want to follow.”
Like magic, a train pulled up at that moment, yellow line and all. She stood up and followed me through the double doors. There were a few single seats available, but I cleared my throat at a guy in a suit taking up two seats for no good reason. With a gesture to my ever-growing belly and my new friend’s suitcase, he begrudgingly moved to a single seat.*
We sat down, and I asked her what her plans were in my nation’s capital. Turned out she’s in town to visit an old friend and “see the sights.” I recommended some of my favorites — a walkthrough the Building Museum, the war monuments, getting a burger at Shake Shack or Good Stuff — and she started to laugh. “Too much rambling?” I replied.
“No, just a long morning. Here, send me an email if you think of anything else, though a burger sounds perfect.” She handed me a card, which sounds pretentious but it wasn’t, mostly because I also have a card with my personal contact information on it. I handed her one of mine. Her name is Gesa.
“This is my stop,” I stated as I stood. “You’re just a few more, but it’s a straight shot.”
She smiled, and I waved as I left the train. Maybe I should talk to strangers more often.
Eh, maybe not.
*Author’s note: this is the most fictional part of this entire story.