The Nice Thing About Strangers

Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.

Tram 6: Another Abbreviated Love Story

They see each other while she is a passenger and he waits at the stop. As the tram slows and the doors opens, they both lift their chins just a bit. When he steps in, she looks away for a while, then they trade a half-smile over the head of the little old lady between them. The whole ride is like this–eye contact, then avoiding eye contact, eyebrows up, then eyebrows down. She glances and he notices her glance. He stares and she feels his stare. Then she studies the blank sides of buildings they pass, large inane advertisements and scaffolding. Everything outside the window seems fascinating. When she senses that he is no longer looking, she looks to him. He feels her look and aims to return it. Yet, he doesn’t commit himself. He doesn’t seem capable of sliding around the lady between them, of becoming brave enough to speak with her. From this distance there was the potential for humiliation before so many strangers, even the older woman seems a stone fortification he can’t overcome.

A few stops later, the tram slows and he slowly disembarks, feeling his lack of courage. He moves to the window by her gaze and gestures a phone to his ear. She breaks into a full smile, but shakes her head, “No.”

Even if she had nodded, “Yes,” the doors were quickly closing. The “Yes” would have been a horrible disappointment. It would have been a yes and a departure, a yes and a conclusion. Nonetheless, he receives her smile and this is a portable victory.

–Budapest, Hungary

tram in budapest, budapest tourism

8 comments on “Tram 6: Another Abbreviated Love Story

  1. vintageport014
    September 29, 2014

    “Portable victory”…that has value too…likely made each’s day just a bit brighter.

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      September 29, 2014

      And yours truly as I feverishly took notes, delighted that a story showed up just when I needed it! 😀
      Thanks, VP!

  2. evelyneholingue
    September 29, 2014

    The No was definitely a better ending to the story and their story than a Yes. This post brought back memories of similar rides and encounters when I used to ride the metro in Paris…

    • vintageport014
      September 29, 2014

      Ahh, in Paris? But of course…or should that be Oui…?

    • thenicethingaboutstrangers
      October 1, 2014

      🙂 Evelyne, I think this is a joy in public transportation. I love watching others to see if I can guess what they are pondering. I wanted to shove him over!

  3. katarinawohlfart
    October 2, 2014

    The stuff in the photo looks very much like Sweden. Budapest must be fav. Will go there.

  4. André
    October 2, 2014

    Hi Paige, I loved Budapest! Really great city. I really like your post. Sometimes a stare means more than a thousand words 🙂

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