This is material cut from my memoir-in-progress, Six Years in Slovenia.
Today is still Friday, November 20, 2009, and I am at the Brežice train station where she has just walked around the corner as I took out my journal to write. I hear her sniffing slightly and the scrape of her boots. She is standing about ten yards distant from me.
Conductor: train will be ten minutes late.
She is wearing an A-line skirt. I don’t know what to do, nothing probably, I feel like an idiot even now. She only takes the seven o’clock train on Fridays from Brežice. She did not go the same route as I did or I would have seen her.
When you actually meet someone in the flesh everything that you have been imagining about them seems absurd.
Now I can’t look up, or I will give myself away somehow. I have been imagining all of this, this whole weird mystery. She stands almost in my line of sight, I can see her silhouette out of the corner of my eye. Now, if I were a heroine in a novel, now is when something outside of us would happen to draw us together, now is when I would be bold and seize the moment, but I am not a heroine. I am just a ragged mortal too fearful of my own awkwardness and the risk, I feel jumping around inside myself like a crazed horse in its stall, of my nervousness kicking up its heels and dragging me forcibly and humiliatingly away. She sniffs a lot, does she have a cold? It is somewhat cold, her knees are exposed.
The leaves rustle in a light breeze that I barely feel. The rumble of cars passing by. She and I are all but alone on the train platform. She stands away from me facing the tracks, but does not go inside. I look up because the conductor has briefly come out; her face is turned in my direction but I cannot tell if she is looking at me. She must be. I am still hiding myself, pretending. I look away and in the train direction so she doesn’t think I am looking at her. Someone speaks to her. She answers in a low pleasant voice, definitely antinasal. She has a cold. No wonder going about with all that exposed skin. She should be inside really, not out here. The wires clang together overhead as the wind blows them. I hear distant bell of the train crossing guards. It is nearly 7:25, the train should be coming about now. Will I sit near her?
I am on the train. She is sitting behind me somewhere. I know she notices me. Everyone is sick; I am sitting across from a mother who hacks like a plague victim.
The conductor is flirting with a cute girl from Krško. I am passively beginning to understand this language somewhat; I understand that he is asking her where she is studying, where she lives, and so on.
The girl is wearing a green jacket. Not the Krško girl but the one this narrative is about. I never look right at her; I avoid her like usual, but I am aware of her presence and I know she is aware of mine. What she wants I do not know. Maybe I don’t want to know; maybe it’s something stupid and awful, like pity. Like Leo’s brother. She goes from Brežice to Brestanica every Friday at 7.
Next stop is Krško. She laughed at something the conductor said. The flirty girl is getting off at Krško.
I wonder what will happen, but somehow I already know. I am too nervous, tonight is not the night to solve any mysteries. The train doors close and we slither on towards Brestanica.
She almost bumps into me as we were getting up to leave; she smiles at me, I see her smile is somewhat gummy, like mine; her face is plain. I feel guilty for judging her because I am not pretty myself.
We silently exit the train, greet the German perv who is working the platform, we go up to the street; she walks ahead, but off to the side she stops, waiting for someone she must be. There is no more mystery to be solved tonight; I walk through the mists home.