The crowds threaded through each other across the expanse of the station. The sound flowed like an undercurrent. Voices and sharp footfalls.
"Thanks for giving me a ride today," she said.
"No trouble," he said. "Hey, what are neighbors for, right?"
She smiled. "Yeah."
The numbers and names on the train board spun.
The clicking sound was quaint. The dials turned and turned, then stopped one after another like a giant slot machine.
He struggled to find something good to say. "You got everything?"
"You travel light."
"No use carrying much. I shipped almost everything."
He half caught a toddler who bounced into his legs and directed him off towards his mother. "Are you looking forward to staying at your parents' while you get set up in Chicago?"
"No. Not really."
"I don't blame you. Wouldn't want to stay with mine either."
He looked down at the suitcase scuffs on the floor.
He always had trouble enduring her eyes. Bumping into her in the hall outside his apartment was cool. She was kind of quiet. Always listening. Something in the way she looked at him make him fumble for the doorknob, though.
The schedule board flipped again.
"Oh, hey, did you--"
A voice erupted in the huge expanse. The echoes of marble and grand archways crisscrossed and mixed.
The train to Chicago was boarding.
"That's me," she said.
"Oh, anytime," he said. Of course there wouldn't be a next time. What a stupid thing to say.
She glanced over at the platform stairs and the people converging.
His heart was pounding.
"I'm sorry to see you go," he said.
Those same eyes looked back at him. This time, he had nothing to lose.
For once, she broke away.
He moved to offer his hand, but hesitated.
She took a half step too, then laughed.
"We're pretty pathetic," she said.
"Yes, we are."
An attendant unhooked the red rope, and heads drifted down the escalator. People pressed tighter.
No more time.
The shock of their hug didn't register. He simply felt the high points of her shape. Her weight. Her undeniable presence.
He sank into them. And she squeezed tighter.
That feeling burned into him.
Then, she was away. Her steps hurried to the escalator.
Before he remembered to breathe, she was gone.