Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
He had been handsome when younger; he remained handsome, but had reached an age where people gazed at him like his days were numbered. He shuffled down the narrow hallway with a small green pepper and two tomatoes in his hand. He could see the Hungarian woman’s legs through the glass door of her train compartment. During his double-take, he ran into the door at the end of the hallway like something out of a slapstick film.
On his return from washing the produce, he passed slowly, aiming to catch a glance at her face, but she remained cloaked behind a newspaper. He paused right outside the door. Waiting a bit with his eyes on the statesman gracing the front page, just above the fold, just where her eyes moved across an article on the other side. He considered the occupants surrounding the woman’s legs: an antique Japanese man tearing the stem of a pear then eating it from the top down, core and all; a woman his own age with her hands folded on her lap; and an average looking twenty-something with headphones on.
Feeling bold and immortal, he stepped inside the compartment. The Japanese man nibbled at his pear, the older woman fished for her ticket since she thought this was his reason to enter, and the headphones gave safe cover to the girl looking out the window. The man tried a Serbian greeting at the newspaper to no avail. Then he tried German. The newspaper was drawn down slowly and the Hungarian woman gazed up, unflappable, before she replied to his greetings in her native tongue. Faced with such a wordless opportunity, the man opted to place one hand over his heart, bat his eyelashes, and hold out his nicely rinsed vegetables for her consideration. She let there be some drama in her indecision, before she selected a tomato, offered a smile of gratitude, and lifted her newspaper again.
The man stumbled from the compartment, overjoyed. He paced by her door several other times before they reached their destination, only to find to the woman above those legs still reading the same newspaper, still smirking behind it, a tomato untouched on the seat beside her.
-Train from Belgrade to Budapest.