April 4, 2010, 1:54 a.m.
N Train – 8th Street to 7th Avenue
A man plays a song on his cell phone. It’s a salsa, and it’s rather loud. He does this without any sense of concern for the other passengers, who at this late hour are either asleep or plugged in with music of their own. The woman next to him laughs. She looks to be about the same age, her face weathered, her earrings from younger days. She’s dressed in a black dress that fits her age; he’s in a black Adidas sweatshirt that certainly doesn’t.
At Canal Street, she tells him the next stop is hers. He grabs her, almost violently, and tugs her in close. He wraps his arms around her midsection, inching them further and further until he’s clasped his own hands together and has her in full embrace. She lies motionless for a while, her arm grazing his neck, then she pulls back, sticking them into his chest and pushing away. He holds even tighter, adjusting his grip. It’s hard to see her face to know the reason for the switch: Is she crying? Angry? As the brakes hit she finally breaks his grip. This is her stop. She kisses and jumps off.
He slides over as she departs and looks down at his phone, but doesn’t open it. He slides back and leans right as if peering around a corner. He watches her as she ascends the stairs.