We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.

16 Nov 2014

A Stranger's Story

It's past midnight. The city looks different at this time. The people are less stiff and probably drunk. Usually I'm back home at a safer hour but today I was out with some friends. Most of the time I'm not able to distinguish their words while using the public transportation -since the noise and being new to the language prevent any chances of comprehension- but at this time it's easier. Small talks, laughs and children's words are all employed. But I'm too tired to even try to follow their conversation. Sometimes the other party -since they are too loud- seems to include you as well in the conversation. At least with their gaze. In such cases I can only smile at them.
There are no seats to be seated, despite the late hour, so I am just standing still. I'll have to change lines in a couple of stops, so sitting wouldn't do much good.
In places like a full underground wagon, there is always a person that attracts your attention in one way or another. Depending on your way of perceiving the world, you have and a different interpretation. I as a desperate romantic always see love and happiness in each case.
So there is this man standing as well in the full carriage. My eyes might have glanced at him once or twice (I don't remember), imprinting him on my mind as an interesting case. He's in black with a black messenger's bag hanging from his left shoulder.
I get off and head towards the platform from which I'll get home. I usually walk too fast to be caught up by most of the people, so the man vanished behind me. I reach the platform and enter the train on time. Again there are no seats. 'Come on!,' I think to myself, 'that's a long journey to be standing.' I just occupy a place near the door and lean by the wall of the wagon. I see the man coming walking in a speedy fashion. He enters, and occupies a place somewhere out of my dreary line of sight.
I had to get me a seat as soon as possible. After a few stops the wagon almost empties. Only a few people are scattered around its seats. I rush for the closest group of vacant ones at the same time as the man does.
Now he is sitting opposite to me, constantly scanning everything but me, but at times stopping his quick eyes on me.
-Where I come from eye contacts -at least that's what I think- are much more often between strangers. In such cases eyes can say a lot. Since I've arrived in Berlin I've brought with me such a habit as longer looks (which here would be called stares)-
But his was one of the very few and quite penetrative ones I've encountered.
I was too tired to concentrate on him. Young (not older that 30), dark brown eyes, beautiful face, a signet ring on his left ring finger and dressed in black. Black suit and trousers with a red tie protruding from his also black shirt.
I had leaned on the window, scrutinising him through the glass and at times turning my eyes on him just to catch him starring at me (and then pretending to look around).
-Throughout the years I came to like and accept my body and all of its incapacities (or other people's assurances that I am passing as attractive, or even beautiful, I hope because of my style and not of my 'given' characteristics, led me to that bodily-self-acceptance). But one thing I cannot stand. That is how weak I am in terms of physical power. Anyone, if they wanted to, they could with ease confine me to a place and do whatever they wanted to me, from beating me up to raping me. My only escape is only if I can outrun them.-
I had a strange urge to smile at him. He was so good looking and tranquil, despite his noisy eyes that I wanted to smile at him. But his ring kept me from doing so. It reminded me of illegal businesses, drugs, gangs and murders whose victims are found dumped in a state beyond identification.
I started to think what would happen if I'd smile at him. Maybe he'd smile back or maybe start a conversation. Maybe he'd get off at the same station as I and, as a romantic, ask me for a dinner someday. Maybe he'd get off and offer me to go for a drink at his place -a perfect place to confine someone. Or maybe he'd just do nothing, embarrassed of being caught.
My smile never showed since I was occupied with these and other tremendous thoughts about what would happen if I did so.
We got off at the same station, with him leading the way in a quick pace. I passed him by at the stairs. When we reached the exit, each one of us went to the opposite of the other's side of the street. My apartment is a two minutes walk from the station.
As soon as we set foot on the pavement I started walking faster. I could tell that I was being watched from the other side of the road. At that time I had realised that starring back wouldn't be a good idea since that might imply anything that could lead to a disadvantageous situation for me. So I just looked at his direction with the slightest turn of my head. I could see him walking parallel with me, having fixed his gaze at me, without I being able to overrun him.
Thankfully there were some constructions these days and the street was divided by a waterless moat (imagine the next day a body being found there), which was protected by walls, not allowing people to see what's happening inside during work hours.
As soon as I reached the point were the constructions started, I quickened my pace to an almost running one. That was when I heard a loud whistle, like the ones people make by bringing their fingers at their lips. I don't know whether it was directed at me or not, or even if it was a whistle at all and not just a random sound. I remember looking at the street behind me, but I'm not sure if I did so. I just aimed for my apartment almost running.
Close to my destination the works were finished and so I was able to see on the other side of the street. Although I was afraid of being followed, at the same time I was curious to see if that was the case. A hasty glance only revealed a number of unknown figures, none of them matching to the one I was looking for. I quickly opened the door and disappeared inside the building.