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  • "If only I were younger," I thought with a sigh and envisioned how that sentence might end.

    Standing near the bathroom, in the space between cars where people smoked, making out for the whole of the five-hour ride? In another time, another place, that might have happened. In another time, another place, it had.

    "Who? The guy who looks like a pimp?"

    "It's the sunglasses," I protested. "He is cute."

    He was.

    Tall, lanky, and dark, with a sweet smile under those sunglasses, he didn't walk with a swagger but somewhat hesitantly. As he looked at seat numbers, passengers, and empty seats, I wondered if we had taken his seat in our quest to claim the table mid car. He found a seat on the aisle three rows back, stowed a little blue bag, and smiled at me. At the table, I rode backwards from Meteora to Athens and looked into the faces of the people who boarded.

    Our eyes met a dozen times more, two dozen, four score. He put on his sunglasses and I imagined he wanted to look cool, to watch without being seen, to keep them from being scratched. It didn't matter. His smile was sweet and nothing would come of it.

    Though, I did think about dropping a kiss on his forehead. On that sweet smile. If I were younger, in another place at another time, I might have pulled the man to his feet, to the space between cars, toward me. We could have explored the little language we shared.

    Then, again, maybe he spoke fluent English. So many did. He probably studied the language in school. Or maybe he grew up in London, Toronto, New York. Maybe he heard and understood my "new boyfriend" comments, but if he did, he didn't mind.

    He smiled. I smiled back. We made faces. We shrugged. Five hours passed.

    In Athens, I climbed down to the platform and turned to wait for my friends; he passed with his little blue bag and turned to find me in the crowd. I lifted a hand. He waved with one last flash of the sweet smile, and we walked into night.

    Alone.
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