A Chance Encounter

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Today’s Daily Prompt was this - Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow. (I highlighted the sentence in question)

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I loathe public transportation.  Every nuance of its existence offends me. The platforms are loud and over-crowded, the blended fragrances of the vast array of perfumes, cologne and foul body odors are noxious and people are overtly rude.  I don’t like crowds and I certainly don’t like feeling like a sheep being herded into a confined space.  I wish I had a car.

I purposely took a seat in the station far from the gathering crowd.  If I could begin my holiday with some personal space, I might have a fighting chance of surviving the journey without incident.  I buried my nose in the latest Oprah Book Club selection, The Poisonwood Bible, and tuned out the din of the increasing population of travelers.

I felt his stare before I actually looked up to take notice of him.  He was staring directly at me.  His eyes were so fixed on my face that he had seemingly forgotten to blink for about three minutes.  His face was worn, and it carried with it a lifetime of pain.  The deep-set lines in his forehead reminded me of the lines carved into a sand-blasted sign.  To say he had character would be a gross understatement.  But nothing about his gruff complexion made me uncomfortable.  There was a genuine sadness in his eyes and, for the first time in my life, I wanted to talk to a complete stranger.  I made the first move and closed the distance between us.

He was the one who spoke first, “You look like her.”

He blinked and a single tear traced through the jagged pattern of wrinkles on his cheeks.  The words he uttered almost came out in whispers.  He had lost his daughter, and every day he would come to the bus station just to catch a glimpse of someone who resembled her, to help him hang on to her memory.  We chatted about ourselves briefly and I became so intrigued by this man that I barely heard the metallic voice announcing the arrival of my bus.  I stood to gather my things, but I didn’t want to go.  I didn’t want to leave him.

I missed my bus that day.  My family was angry that I was late for the festivities, but when I explained what had happened, they were moved to tears, as was I.  The sweet man who stared at me in the bus station and I now have lunch together every Friday.  I now call him my friend.

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