After a short vacation in Jamaica, Kate returned to work. That October morning, she enjoyed the copper lined sandy leaves that shimmered on the trees in the sunlight. She crossed the street from the bus stop, and humming her favorite tune, she walked up the steps. The soft autumn wind ruffled her dark curly hair.
She looked at her watch and saw that the train would arrive in five minutes. She stepped in haste on the escalator and almost bumped into an elderly gentleman whose stature belied his age. He stalled, oblivious to anyone around him. “May I pass?” she said impatiently.
He resumed his steady steps. He stopped at the turnstile, paid his fare, and quickly moved onto the platform.
Kate moved through the turnstile and showed the attendant her pass. She didn’t glance at him as she clicked by. Kate hugged her jacket to her more from irritation than the chill. She away, and unobtrusively watched him and wondered if she’d seen him before. Her face creased in consternation.
The elderly gentleman, who defied all laws of what an aged person should be, defied the laws of what a passenger should be, and defying those laws, he stood close to the railing, enjoying the passengers of all ages as they moved on the platform. Although his face was red and stressed with age lines, he gave the impression of health and vitality. And there was a mysterious quality about him that rendered an aura of the tropics. He had abundant soft white hair, with feathered strands brushed across a receding hairline. His brow creased and his eyes gleamed like lapis as if he were thinking a perplexing thought. He wore an azure tweed jacket that complemented a teal dress shirt and aquamarine trousers. They hung on him, as if he'd traveled a great distance with little sleep. He leaned over the railing and watched passengers coming and going from the station.
There was rumbling and then a violent whoosh as the train arrived; it screeched and stopped. He turned as the doors slid open. He went into the compartment. He glanced briefly at the young woman, aware that she was scrutinizing him. What was she doing here, in this time and place? He wondered. And amazingly, he fathomed that he could even smell a hint of her favorite perfume. And (did he fancy it?) he noticed that her pearly skin and soft curly dark hair glowed in the morning sunlight, presenting her more beautiful than he’d remembered her. But it could not be her because she was much older. He breathed heavily and decided that she was someone who looked like her. Calmer now, he sat down.
Kate sat behind him because she wanted to continue observing him. If he noticed her fascination, he didn’t show it. She watched him as he looked out of the window. She was unafraid of his potential discovery of her scrutiny because she wouldn’t be long on the train. The sunlight glimmered through the glass opposite him and cast a hazy glow on his hair, as if he were a visitor from another dimension. A memory of someone teased the shadows in her brain as she contemplated him. Who was this intriguing older gentleman? What was it about him? Was it the smoky-blue eyes? Or was it the proud look in a hardened profile? She looked away from him, now aware that her stare might be offensive. The train stopped. She got up and stumbled out. The doors slammed shut.
Canton Heronly was suffering from insomnia. On the morning he had the strange experience at the train station, he was traveling to Macy’s department store.
He had lived in Florida, but recently moved to Philadelphia, hoping a change in climate would benefit him. He suffered from and depression, also.
This morning, he’d awoke on the living room couch, still dressed in his suit. As he struggled with consciousness, he knew he had to do something to change the sad mental state of his mind. Therefore, he decided to ride the public transit and go into town. He could buy a new shirt.
When Canton returned home, he put his package on the dresser, went into the living room, and sat in his leather chair. Disturbed, he closed his eyes and thought:
It was Kate as she looked twenty years ago. Of course, it couldn’t have been her. It had to have been someone who looked remarkably like her. Then why does my feelings reject this rationality?
He cast his mind back to the last time he’d seen his wife. He’d followed the investigator he’d hired to Jamaica. When he saw her sitting there in that hotel restaurant with his so-called best friend, he felt rage, and almost killed him.
Time had changed his feelings, and his perception about his wife. He should have asked for a meeting, reasoned with her, told her he was sorry, and asked her to come back. He should have managed it differently, forgiven her. After all, he was partly to blame for her actions.
What was that experience he had at that train station? Is his mind grasping for an irrational explanation from a perfectly normal experience because of his despair? He clasped his aching head. The only way to solve the problem was to contact Kate. He wondered if he had her cell number.
He stood and went into his library. He opened the drawer to the desk and took out an address book. He thumbed through it to “Daria Kathryn Heronly.” He picked up his phone and dialed the number; he heard a recording. Then Canton remembered that she’d changed her number since then. He wondered if he had it. He picked his phone up from the desk and checked his phone in contacts. There wasn’t a phone number, but there was an email address. He opened his computer, and composed a short message: “Kate, please may I call you? I’d like to talk to you.” He clicked send and waited. In about five minutes there was a response, with a phone number. He picked up the phone, and he dialed again.
He heard a gasp, and then she said, “Canton, I can’t believe that it’s you. I dreamed of you last night.”
Canton took a deep breath. “Kate. I’ve had the strangest experience,” he said.