The sun had long set and slow jazz spilled from the speakers of the End Street Depot as we waited. She cried. Or maybe it was the rain, I couldn’t be sure. I hugged her close, smelling her hair—a mixture of lemon, rosemary, and artificiality. I liked it.
“I’m sorry,” I replied, not knowing what else to say. I could feel unfamiliar eyes staring me down from a few rows up.
It started as sex. No strings. An escape from my life. She stayed with me for the money, the gifts, the things she couldn’t have as a stripper. I was fine with that.
“I can’t give you more.”
“It’s not enough,” she repeated.
I sat up, as though correct posture might make this conversation easier. I turned to face her, my legs blocking the aisle. I no longer cared about who heard us. “Elana, I don’t know what else you want from me. This was the deal. A good fuck and a nice new dress…nothing’s changed.”
“I already told you—there’s nothing left to keep us apart. She’s gone!”
“I know what you said,” she snapped, turning back to the window.
I thought about the day I first met her. Stubb’s Hall. She lit up the stage with her black glittered heels and wicked smile. I thought about the slow burn of the whiskey as I watched her undress to the wail of the low saxophone behind her. I knew my wife would have killed me if she knew where I had been, but the whiskey had already convinced me that I didn’t care.
Sinking back into the hard seat, I let my hands fall helplessly to my sides. “I just need more time.”
“For what?” she yelled. “I’ve given you nothing but time!”
“I just…I don’t know. It’s complicated. My God, she hasn’t been dead a month.”
The night my wife died, my heart broke. I buried it with her and I knew I would never get it back. I didn’t deserve it back. Fuck Cancer, I thought. Fuck me for being such an asshole.
The train jarred us both as it pulled into the next station. The rain kept a steady beat on the car’s metallic roof, falling harder. The soft shapes of the world outside now hid completely behind opaque sheets.
“You’ve had enough time, Shawn,” Elana said as she stood, steadying herself on the steel pole that stood between them. “I can’t wait another six months for you to decide what you want.”
The beckoning lights of Stubb’s Hall flashed pink through the window. I hadn’t realized that the rain had stopped, once again revealing the world around me. Bracing myself for the next station, I stood and took hold of the pole. The cold stung my hand. When the car had come to a complete standstill, I made my way to the exit. Apparently, this was where I got off. Stepping from the platform to the ground, I stopped as my foot caught on something. Inspecting the underside of my shoe, I couldn’t help but laugh. A wad of gum. Freshly chewed and strung along between the bottom of my foot and the hard metal floor.
Written by: Amber E. Box
Photograph by: Matthew Wiebe
Photograph by: Matthew Wiebe