The Encounter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: February 26, 2019

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Submitted: February 26, 2019



The Encounter

Rush hour on the Washington METRO!  “Good God,” she thought!  She felt as tired in the press of the day’s events as she had ever been.  Clutching the moving belt of the escalator, the heels of her pumps irritating her feet, she descended the stairs that would take her across the mall and down into the bowels of Pentagon City.  Hundreds of people gathered around her as she stood waiting for the next Orange Line train in the underground.  The men carefully shuffled themselves forward—almost as though they used telepathy to move together, as though they thought with one collective mind.  She found herself continually backing away from the front of the platform to avoid them.

She glanced to her left.  A man stood firm against the crowd; resolute, it seemed.  He had no expression on his face.  He turned to look at her and, for a moment, she saw compassion in the expression on his face.  His unyielding behavior had created a narrow path into which she put herself, shuffling up behind him.  The next train arrived.  It came packed with its human cargo!  The “Orange Crush” they called it.  The man didn’t move.  Taking a somewhat philosophical viewpoint, she waited patiently to see what he would do.  He gently and unobtrusively extended his right arm just a bit in front of her turning slightly as though he was telegraphing a command to linger.

Following his cue, she patiently watched as the doors to the car closed in upon the people packed so closely together the analogy of sardines in a can came to her mind.  She chuckled to herself.  There would be another—during rush hour, the Orange Line trains ran just a few minutes apart.  The fellow was right.  She looked over his shoulder.  She was very close to him now—directly behind him.  He clutched his carryall and stood firm.  A strange thought flickered across her consciousness.  She thought: My champion protects me.  It was a momentary feeling but a powerful one.  She felt this stranger to be her defender, sent by God at this very moment in time, to see her safely home; if, in fact, she might ever get home at a reasonable hour!

The next train arrived.  She hadn’t noticed before but she seemed very close to the edge of the platform now and wondered how that might have happened.  As the train slowed to a stop, the man once again extended his right arm, ever so slightly, almost as though he were signaling her to be patient and wait for a precise moment.  She stood with her brief case in her hands—her coat draped across her right arm—looking down at that arm of his, offering her silent obedience.  She found herself trusting this perfect stranger for some odd reason. 

The doors opened before him and at that precise moment, he turned, brought his arm around behind the small of her back and moved her gently in front of him and into the waiting car.  He did it with authority.  The other men stepped away as though they feared reprisal.  For just a moment, she felt as though she was a woman of noble birth.  That’s right, boys!  She thought, fear him; he is my escort, my noble knight, and he will cut you down if you do not step aside!  She regained her composure and felt embarrassed at the suggestion that such a queer thought could cross her mind.

She moved toward the opposite side and turned to seek out her gallant knight.  There he stood not eight feet from her—looking at her with a quiet expression of satisfaction.  She moved her lips in a silent “thank you.”  And he acknowledged her with a gentle nod and an ever so serene smile.  The doors closed; the car gently lurched and she was on her way home.  She felt relieved.  But, more curiously, she felt as though her person was under the protection of someone who loved her and she searched the crowd to find her gentle fellow.  He stood quietly against the wall holding on to a rail to keep his balance.

She carefully moved a bit closer to him.  The train pulled into Rosslyn Station.  The doors opened and her protector turned to leave.  “Good night,” she said to him as she reached a point within earshot of his person.  He turned to her and smiling at her with that serene little smile of his, she thought she heard him say: “Good night, my lady.”  Astonished, she took in the features of his kind face.  He turned and stepped from the car and was gone—lost in the crowd.  The doors closed and the train moved on. 

Each day, when Rosslyn Station approached, she found her heart in her throat as the doors of her subway car opened.  Would she ever see her gallant fellow again?  She thought not.  What were the chances that two strangers would meet like that a second time.  Every day, she’d sit in a seat by the door so that, when the train arrived at Rosslyn Station and the doors opened, she might see him once again and offer him a seat beside her.  She thought: This is ludicrous!  You’ve fallen in love with someone you don’t even know! 

Months passed.  But, she couldn’t stop thinking of him each day.  She really tried too!  She engaged in mental exercises to push the image of him out of her mind.  Then she would find herself constructing that image all over again—this mild-mannered fellow in his dark blue suit and powder blue shirt and crimson necktie.  It was a button-down collar she would remember, realizing that she had become a hopeless romantic and that this was becoming an obsession.  And, so it would go, each and every day.  Poor girl!

One mild summer afternoon while finishing her lunch at a small bistro on Pentagon Row, she caught sight of him!  He sat unassumingly alone at a table on the far side of the courtyard reading a paper and sipping a beverage from an ice-laden glass.  After paying for her meal, she left her table to carefully approach his location trying to get a glimpse of his left hand.  Relieved she saw no ring.  She gathered her courage and walked up to him.  “Excuse me,” she began but then stopped.  He looked up at her and smiled that beatific little smile of his that she so well remembered.  “Yes, miss,” he offered as a question?

“My name is Evelyn Barnes,” she explained, “we’ve met once before.”  She extended her hand in friendship.  He took it and shook it briefly in one firm gesture of appreciation and then released her.  He sat back in his chair, put down his paper, and motioned gracefully for her to take up the seat in front of him.  As she sat down, he answered, “Yes, the young lady on the train; I remember.  How nice to meet you again.  My name is Phillip St. Martin.”  Evelyn felt relieved.  He was making it easy for her.  She began to recall the event and he gently chuckled at her imaginative interpretation.  He took up a dialogue with her and they soon learned that they did not work too far from one another.  As the hour passed, she felt self-assured of her first impression.  He was a gentleman—an educated fellow too!  He had a sense of propriety almost to the point of being chivalrous.  As they closed their conversation for the day, she had him promise to meet her again and he consented.  From that day on, they would become good friends and constantly bask in the warmth of each other’s company. 

Time passed and their friendship grew into a consuming love for one another.  Evelyn would find herself marveling at her happiness from day to day for he never changed.  He always conducted himself in the manner that had first attracted her to him.  Eventually, they married.  One day, on a leisurely cruise to the south of France for their honeymoon, they finished their supper and walked out on to the ship’s promenade deck.  Standing by the rail to take in the view she held on to his arm as though she might lose him.  “Your grip upon my arm is so tight, my darling,” he cooed to her.  “Are you nervous about something?”

“Never leave me,” she exclaimed!

He looked at her playfully.  “That would be impossible,” he reassured her, and quite calmly too!  “I was made for you,” he calmly added turning his gaze to the placid ocean.  And that is when it occurred to her.  After all these years together she had finally grasped the cause of it in a moment of clairvoyant realization!  She had created him by the power of her constant yearning.  She had created him—her perfect fellow, her champion, her valiant knight—through the power of her own will; her own conscious thought.

He turned to her and gently kissed her temple as she stood engrossed in deliberation.  “A penny for your thoughts, my love,” he said.  She looked up at him then gently kissed his lips.  She took in the features of his face and embraced him staring deep into his eyes.  She caught sight of his soul and found it full of love for her.  That’s when she understood her authority, connected to the power of the cosmos, and felt herself quite happy with the results; clever girl!

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