Two men on the train
One young. The other old.
They both wore gray coats and shiny black shoes.
The young one saw something in the old one.
The old one saw something in the young one.
The old one’s hands were coated with liver spots. He wore a thick gold ring. The kind that would leave a distinctive mark on someone’s face or authoritative noise if he pounded his fist on a table. He had the wild eyebrows of a widow.
The young one wore a little too much hair gel. He cradled a bouquet of yellow roses against his chest in a futile attempt to keep them safe from wayward backpacks and elbows on the crowded train car. He smiled easily, broadly and much more than any of the other commuters.
They talked for seven stops.
¿Para su Esposa? He motioned to the roses.
No, the young one laughed. For a friend.
The old one nodded and smiled.
¿De dónde eres?
Here. I’m from here.
Some, yes. A little.
His tone was somewhere between patronizing and pleading, and the young one didn’t protest.
Do you ever visit?
The old man nodded.
No. Well, not for a long time.
You should visit. You have family there?
You should visit.
A string of passengers squeezed between them to exit the train at each stop.
The conversation continued each time the train started to move again.
What do you do?
Manage a hair salon in the Loop.
What about you?
Sell flowers. Buy your roses at Aldi, he whispered. They’re the best.
The young one smiled. He listened.
And he wasn’t used to having anyone listen. Not like the young one, who leaned in like an old friend.
So he talked. He talked about the rare plants and vibrant flowers from South America that were his favorite. How he chose flowers to fit different people. Different moments. Like an artist mixes his paints, he said.
They shook hands as the train jerked to a stop and walked in opposite directions on the platform.
The young one thought about growing old.
The old one thought about being young.