Once Upon A Time In Traffic

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We were mere windows away, so close we could kiss if not for the glass.

Cocooned in the air-conditioned backseat of the taxi, I watched his profile in the afternoon light. He could be Chinese, with eyes like that, but his jaw and the arrogant slant of nose hinted at lineage from the other side of the ocean.

Like the rest of us, his driving was put to pause by the gridlock, so he sat there impatiently tapping the steering wheel, squinting at the dashboard sun. From my vantage point I can see the smooth skin on one arm, spattered with freckles. I can see the soft curl of hair on his nape.

Suddenly he turns to look at me, and just as quickly I will my eyes to glaze over, as though I am seeing through him. He looks briefly at me, then at his fingers tapping the wheel. Then he half-turns his body on the seat and stares for what seems like a long, long time, his gaze straight and unwavering. I focus my eyes and just as simply, look.

This impasse goes on and on, neither of us moving or doing anything except holding a stranger’s gaze, the heat warping time and trapping us under the spell of the red light overhead.

Then, unforgivably, he smiles at me.

And, as though this was a kiss, the light blinked green, the spell was broken; the mass of vehicles swept us on. The road forked to our separate destinations, and we drift away from each other’s view fast, so fast the cars blur and I go back to looking at my hands, or at nothing in particular.

Ah, but what a smile that was!


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