thing

The express trains don’t stop here, they barrel through, loud and fast. “The train is coming,” a shrill recorded voice blasts over the speakers, while everyone stares at their cell phones, queued up behind the yellow lines.

There is a boy. He stands at the edge of the platform, tilted slightly forward. A few people glance at him. “Please stand behind the yellow line for your safety,” the sign beside him says. He sways slightly back and forth as the express train shoots past him, ruffling his long bangs. You watch him do this every morning, your heart speeding up as the train approaches. He sways forward, his dark eyes boring into you, a faint smile on his lips, forward, forward, and then, at the last second, back.

It was his eyes you noticed first, ringed in thick black lashes, but it was that cruel, sensual smile that kept you watching.

You never see him in the evenings, when you go home to your one-room apartment, but today is different. He steps out of the car next to yours, and he looks at you with those dark eyes and that cruel smile. You know that there is no option except to follow him, and you do, down the narrow twisting streets. You have no idea where you are going.

He stops at the narrow gap between two buildings, barely enough room to stand in, and he pulls you after him, pushing your suit jacket off your shoulders. Your fingers creep beneath his stiff black collar. His pulse beats steady against your palm. In the distance you can hear the faint ding of a train crossing.

It happens again, though not often, not nearly often enough. Every morning becomes a kind of sweet agony to you, standing on the platform, watching. You know nothing has changed from before, not really, but now every second it takes him before he looks back is torture, his every move deliberate, that sway a threat or promise or both.

One morning, you grab his hand, and he looks at you not with surprise but only mild curiosity. Your heart pounds loud in your ears, and you pull him away from the platform. He follows you, silently, down the broad streets to your one-room apartment. He follows you up the stairs, through your faded, rusting door. He stares at you with blank dark eyes as you take off his clothes piece by piece, methodic. He stares at the goosebumps raised on his pale, thin arms.

You push him into the bathroom, and you pick up the knife you left on the counter. It’s the first time you’ve seen a true emotion on his face. Just a flicker, and then that, too, is gone, over as quickly as it began.

The next morning you walk to the station with the metallic stink of blood in your nostrils. You stand on the edge of the platform, and you begin sway, back and forth. You see a girl standing across from you, watching. Her eyes are dark, and framed with thick black lashes. She smiles at you.

“The train is coming,” a shrill voice says over the loudspeaker.

You sway forward and then, at the last second, you step back.

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