Friday, February 7, 2014

The Terminal Date

This should not have happened, but it did anyway, which was a long time ago, all because we thought it was fun, college students that we were. I knew her only by her first name, and I met her by chance in, of all places, National Bookstore. That’s another story. The long and short of it is that I asked her out, so I did. She had something in mind. Mary said that it must be the first and last, no communication thereafter whatsoever. I thought about it for a while. Having no other choice, I agreed, so we went on a date at the train station the following week. Or something like a date.

I gave her my landline number. She didn’t give hers. “Just in case I change my mind,” she said, “if not, I will call you.”

Before we left the bookstore and parted ways, she handed over a book she bought. “Have you read this one?” I looked at the cover and said, “No. Not yet.” I lied, of course. She said, “Read it for me, then bring it next week at the station,” she paused, “if things turn out according to plan.” I nodded and said, “Bring a Kundera, too.” She smiled. “Sure.” Then we went our separate ways.

Six days later, she called. We were to meet Sunday, the next day.

The place was not too crowded. We were there at around ten in the morning, as planned, though I was earlier by about a minute or so. I wore what she wanted me to wear. She wore what I asked her to wear, and when I saw her emerge from the stairs I thought she looked lovely I can look at her all day. I brought the book with me. She brought her own, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which was the first Kundera I’ve read. She held her book against her chest as she looked at me. I looked at her, too. It was probably the longest five minutes of our lives. We waited for the train, perhaps hoping somewhere in the back of our minds that it won’t arrive. Not today. Not tomorrow. Never again. We could have just stayed there forever, two strangers almost in transit, caught in a place where everyone leaves and arrives. We could have stayed.

But that’s impossible because there’s something else you should know.

We were waiting for the train, that is true, but we were waiting on opposite sides. You see, we both agreed to meet at the northbound platform. I was there. She was not.

So there she was, standing on the southbound platform, I northbound. No words. I just looked at her, she just looked at me, and the empty railway was all the space our eyes needed to scale. From me to her. From where she was to where I was. If the human gaze has an invisible hook at the end of an invisible rope, we would have snagged ourselves toward each other quite easily. We’d end up together halfway, entangled and stuck right smack on the railway, the train to run us over into a gazillion sorry slices. We were smiling. I knew. She knew. In that state of waiting and wanting, there was an embrace waiting and wanting to happen, too. Maybe that was how she wanted it. I liked the idea as well.

And then the train. Southbound. Strange that we didn’t notice it humming as it neared, announcing its inevitable arrival. I didn’t notice. Perhaps she did and simply pretended not to care. In the end, the train stopped to claim the only casualty in our terminal date. I’m sure it wasn’t, isn’t her. The train came between us like a blade, and then for a while it stood like a wall. A coup de grace. An inescapable certainty almost eight feet high and a lifetime long.

When the train left, she was gone. Gone too soon I could almost die. The train disappeared in the distance. Like a promise.

I glanced at the cover of my book, Milan Kundera’s Immortality. I couldn’t help but smile. She got me there.

I searched the southbound platform, looking left and right, thinking that, maybe, just maybe, she opted to stay and watch me leave instead. But she was not there. I looked south, far south, as far as my eyes allowed me to see, until the northbound train arrived. I took the stairs instead and left the station. There was no more use riding that train.

On my way home, I stopped by a thrift shop. I slid Immortality beneath a short pile of used paperbacks. I no longer needed it.

And so, Mary and I went out on a date at the train station. Or something like that. I never saw her again. Where she is now, I do not know. Somewhere south, perhaps. Which reminds me: in Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote that parting is such sweet sorrow. I wasn’t expecting that going the other way too soon was Mary’s idea of ending something that barely even began. To this day, she lives in me.


Anonymous said...

This is one of the best stories I've read in your blog, Splice. Dammit.

kae said...

Fiction? Or real? You always keep me guessing! :D

love this line: We could have just stayed there forever, two strangers almost in transit, caught in a place where everyone leaves and arrives. We could have stayed. :))

SPLICE said...


Hi Carla! Maraming salamat! Kumusta na kayong lahat ng tropa? Ang tagal ko nang hindi nakakabisita sa ating tambayan. Paumanhin, baka matagalan pa bago ako muling makabalik. Depende pa sa maraming mga bagay. Miss ko na kayong lahat! Siya nga pala, nabasa ko yung excerpt ng iyong screen play. Mahusay! :)


I'd rather have you [and others] guessing because, to be honest, that's how I roll he he he :) At the end of the day, I think the Truth of the things I write here does not [or do not, if we take the word Truth with the capital T as plural] matter much. I leave it to the reader to think which is which --- fact or fiction. Perhaps a mix of both. :)

♔ıǝɹɯɐı♔ said...

This is should be a a short film!

kae said...

i don't mind just as long as you keep on feeding us your readers with your love, life, or even lies. :D

Anonymous said...

Your thoughts are just too sexy that my mind is insatiable. ^_~