I remember everything
about those two days, except for the moment I turned my back on you in the parking lot, hoisted the overnight bag higher up my hip, and walked into the station. I almost looked back
. I almost imagined you watching me.
This subway system is foreign to me. I'm trying to make sense of the fare chart, trying to work the goddamned ticket machine. A train shakes the whole world. My last wrinkled dollars disappear, and a white ticket finds its way into my hand. Fourteen minutes until the next train. Fourteen minutes to think about you driving home to your family. I briefly fantasize climbing the stairs to find you still
there in your car. I'm sinking. I call home, make a few vague statements about how the trip's been. I'm happy for a minute, letting forty-eight hours worth of memories cozy up to me.
There are two more trains to ride, at least five more hours in transit. I am grateful for every stranger's tiny kindness. When I finally board the last train, and slump against the cold window glass, a busy looking man sits beside me in a tidy suit. We are in the quiet car, and our conductor has to scold him twice before he'll hang
up his cell phone. We ride. I am trying to make myself small, to keep some distance between our thighs. The man and I don't talk at all for hours, until we're pulling into my station and he asks me if I know when Presidents Day is. I want to tell him about tragedy; instead I pull a datebook from my purse and point.
At some point on this trip, you joked that our relationship is old enough to vote. It's old enough to drive. Old enough to know better. Outside my
home station, it is freezing. I call my husband again. He won't say it but he didn't believe I'd be back. He's missed me. By this time, you've kissed your wife, you've probably put the kid to bed.
Your eyes are wet. My cheeks are pale. We are always riding trains.