The hand that held her phone was trembling as she read the text messages on her screen. She was crying. She was remembering. I know, because I do that too.
I looked down at the top of her head, imagining myself stooping down and giving her a hug, or any kind of comfort. That was as much as I could do, or I could risk embarrassing her, and potentially myself, by doing something like that in public. She swiped her tears away with her other hand, and wiped them on her jeans, smudging her face and staining her clothes with mascara.
A short while later, when the tears on her face had dried and her shoulders stopped heaving with sobs, she took a deep breath and looked up, and realized that I had been staring. She didn’t look away, so I smiled, hoping she would understand that I understood. That I know, because I did that too, once, at a place with faces even more foreign than these ones.
She smiled awkwardly, then stood up because it was her stop next. It was my stop too. When we both stepped out onto the platform, I handed her my pack of tissues and squeezed her hand when she reached out for it. She looked up from her hand into my eyes, and her tears fell again, as if on cue. This time, she pushed her small frame onto mine and hugged me tightly, and didn’t hold back. I put down my bag and stood there with her.
I don’t know how long we stood there, two strangers, friends for that fleeting moment, sharing pain, exchanging comfort, not uttering a single word. When she was done, we both looked at the wet gray smudges she had left on my left shoulder. I frowned at her and she giggled. She knew that I would understand. That I know, because I was once her too.