As important as the COVID19 pandemic is I do not really want to add to the discussion. Other people are much better qualified or did more research to talk about it. I would like to share a short story I wrote on the height of the lockdown. It takes place somewhere in the near future and is about a chance or better glance encounter.
So I take my seat on the train and do what now everyone does. Staring at their screens. No one talks and no one interacts. What a sorry state we are in. We are all masked, we all sit alone with three meters distance and cameras remind us that the new rules are being enforced. At the next station a young man comes in and takes a seat opposite of me. No, he is not a young man. Maybe late 30s early 40s? But he has a lanky boyish look about him. As far as I can tell with just looking at his eyes and his long dark and somewhat frazzled hair. Because everything else is hidden behind his mask, gloves and coat.
He does not pick up his phone or tablet or any other device that is nowadays separating us in public. He looks at me. He looks me directly into the eyes. My only body part that is not hidden. Before COVID19 his behavior would be considered almost intrusive but now it is all we can do without risking infection. And it has been a while since somebody looked at me like this.
His eyes are blueish grey and very alert. I know what he is thinking. I see his eyes wander all over me. He looks at my mask and I can feel his despair from three meters away. How he wishes to just see my lips. See if they form a smile. See if they part ever so slightly inviting him for a possible kiss somewhere down the road in case we connect somehow. How he longs for a connection. Not only a physical one but a connection of souls as well. I think I would want to kiss him. Or at least give him a smile. But there are rules and cameras everywhere. Maybe I am as starved for touch as he is.
…… next stop!
What was that? I look up at the display to see my stop. I have to leave. Where are the cameras? I don’t care, not today. I walk down the aisle to the exit and I let my gloved hand ever so slightly touch his shoulder. It’s like electricity and I feel him jolt up a little. I wait outside to catch a glimpse of his longing eyes when the train passes. There is a single lonely tear running down his face into the mask.
This story encapsulates my feelings at this time. The picture was taken a year before on a very cold day when I had to wait 30 mins for the next train (this one was about to leave for the depot). But it fits the story perfectly. If you zoom in you can see the stories protagonist walking away in the distance.