You caught me on a good day

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*She would ask me to drive to abandoned construction sites and tell me these were her favorite places to hang out.

*She would exhort me to see the beauty in the abandoned scaffoldings and cement-encrusted buckets at our feet.

In most indies MPDGs died a tragic death to Teach The Hero A Lesson, and here my imaginary movie paused and froze. I did not want to think of this girl in the train dying a symbolic, cinematic death, however clean and tasteful and set to heart-rending music it would be.

Instead I flashed forward to my imaginary movie’s denouement: I would drive back to the construction site, alone, and take a cement bucket for my very own. The last shot would be me, on the train, cradling the bucket, as another Interpol song (“Stella Was A Diver” maybe?) played over the closing credits.

My stop was coming up and I took one last glance at my MPDG. She caught my look and smiled.

Then she spoke.

“Hi.”

“Hi,” I said.

“Getting off soon?” She could have meant one thing or another.

“Yes.” I meant my stop.

She smiled and wadded the letter in her hands into a tight ball.

The train pulled into the station. I stood, more than a little self-conscious (was I staring so long? Did she think I was some sort of creep or something?), shouldered my backpack and trudged out the hissing doors. I fumbled for my card, pushed through the turnstile and made my way through the station.

Something soft fluttered against my shoulder.

I turned to see her, my train MPDG, a wing-like hand poised to tap me once again.

Up close her face was small and fine and infinitely cuppable, and her round eyes crinkled in a grin.

“Hi,” she said again.

“Hello.”

“I thought I’d ask you something,” she said. She seemed to fight a stammer as she did, and nervously bit her lip as she waited for a response. “D-don’t worry, I’m not out to sell you anything.”

“Oh. Great.” I said.

“I’m Layla.”

“Like the Clapton song?”

She tipped her head. “That’s what everyone says, but I’ve never heard of it.”

“Neither have I.”

Another smile. “Listen. I don’t usually do this. But. Would you. I mean.” She cleared her throat, twisted the hem of her shirt, played with the robot and her eyes darted to the fastfood place across us. “Oh. Never mind. You’re probably on your way to work.” She turned.

“No—wait—“ I said. “Do you want to have breakfast?”

I could watch that smile flash on and off that face for ages.

“Exactly what I wanted to say.”

I followed her inside.I had time.

***

Week 2

“So what were you thinking, that day on the train?”

I told her: of my imaginary indie movie, of the music playing in the train, of the concept of an MPDG in indie romances.

She was looking at me and couldn’t catch the straw with her mouth. I watched her tongue maneuver it; the pink tip dartedto clean a drop of lemonade off the corner of her lip. A few drops had also spilled on her shirt just above her chest.

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