Your Book Is Her Book


You get on at 53rd. You sit next to where she sits. You leave equal spaces with boundary shoulders. The subway grinds, hurries. She fuses against your arm, uprights with detached precision. She plumb lines her separation: switches have been torqued, tracks have been switched; your conductor is a good conductor. You split your book open, relocate your bookmark towards the future. You test your peripherals. You look at her lap; a book censors at her thighs. Her book is your book; her book cover is your book cover. Your senses kindle. You reckon you were tapped for one of those unbounded moments. You look again. You assess the thickness of the pages she parts. You gauge your pages. What she’s read is what you’ve read. Your chapter is her chapter. You think of the movies, of the measured sentence the man slings through an entry half as good as yours. You prepare your words; you do not rush this time. You look at those seated across, no one takes notice of what you have together. There are laborers for another day, discounted suits holding resume folders. You read your page number. You glance for her page number. There is a fold at one corner; her folds are your folds. The other page’s number is curtained by fingers; orbited with rings of gold and silver. You stopped wearing your ring, you don’t know where it is. You think of your wedding, of vows you can’t recall, how young you were, of her father and yours wailing upon her early death. When you went outside, when you said you needed some air. You walked into a KFC; you ate with great appetite. Food groups she had a stance against: crisped meat, dairy, sugar. You felt happy, sated. You recall when she became a vegan, when she told you that you were to become a vegan; that she couldn’t be with you if you didn’t. When you nodded and fed on what you despised.

Subway doors close, belated hands are guillotined and pulled back. She looks at your lap; you pretend not to know she is looking. The train jolts, you adjust your book her way, under the cover of induced acceleration. You want her to see your book cover, to discover what you discovered. You think of the pages you both turned, time apart. You project future conversations about intricacies of language, passages of marvel. You feel expectant. The train stops. She slaps her book. She looks through the resinous window. You reset your bookmark close to where it belongs, ready to follow; ready to deliver your sentence. She slumps back; the stop is not her stop, the stop was your stop. She flips to a page. You see the page number. Her page number is not your page number. You stare vaguely at your book. Your mind rushes versions of your approach sentence. You had done that before: idolized women based on slight particulars, intangibles. You assigned meaning, epics, tenderness in haze, lifelong complicities. The next stop, she exits. You follow. You hurry until you are side by side. You call out your inaugural sentence. She hesitates. You realize your voice had a tremor, your delivery was nervous, lacking in viscosity. She keeps walking. She does not turn your way. You prepare to repeat what you said, in a deeper, more confident tenor. You clear your throat. Her body language broadcasts further avoidance, a hardening to your revamping. She steadies her pace into armor. You recognize that you lost the moment; that the next word is a stalker. You know you will have to try again at the bars, the websites: more failures. You curse your tang for certain women, your unframed college degree; the job you accepted at a Beekman Place co-op basement. Pumps whistling over grease pits, your job title reset in people’s minds into blue-collar designations. You follow her anyway. You say something smart, improvised. This time she turns, she smiles. You tell her that your book is her book, that her chapter is your chapter. You bring up the rarity, the indication. You say that you must get together. You scribble a date and a coffee shop. She nods her availability. You live a week of elation. You arrive 20 minutes early. You walk around the block mechanically until the hour. You sit at a table for two. You wait. You wait longer. Women walk through the door. None of them look your way. None resemble her. You order a coffee to go. You pay an exorbitant price. You exit. You arrive home. You search for your ring. You resize it. You start wearing it on the same finger. You go to the underground, women sit down, subway cars jolt. You hold steadfast, unmoved when they sit close, when they lean against your shoulder.  

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