Disclaimer: Everything and anything related to the Twilight saga belongs to Stephenie Meyer. This is just a work of fiction based on her writings. No harm is meant by it.
A/n: The idea for this story came from a Post Secret posted on LiveJournal a few months ago. The secret: http[:]/tinyurl[.]com/36fwu3v
It's two in the morning on a Monday, and after twenty minutes of waiting for the 4 on the Uptown platform at Union Square, the train finally arrives. Edward tiredly shuffles into the last car, surprised to find only two other people kissing on the other end of the car. No matter what time of the day, the 4 always seems to be crowded.
The couple at the end of the car don't even notice when Edward steps in. At least they give no indication that they saw him. They continue to make out without paying any attention to him.
Edward sneers at the lovesick couple and jams his headphones in, turning the music up as loud as possible. He wants to drown out the sounds of the spit swapping.
Edward hates working the closing shift at his job, especially on Sundays. It means he has to spend several hours after cleaning up the storefront, making sure everything looks neat, and that all the new displays ordered by corporate are up for the following week. As the assistant manager, it's also his job to make sure the register balance is copasetic before the manager arrives on Monday morning.
His job is relatively easy. It involves walking around the store, folding things that customers haphazardly throw around, and occasionally tending to customers at the register. Mostly, he makes sure everyone else is doing their job.
He likes his job. He likes that it's in the heart of downtown, and he actually gets along with all of his coworkers. The train ride to work is what sucks about the job.
While most of his coworkers either live somewhere in the city or are NYU students, Edward goes to Fordham up in the Bronx. That means that the trip downtown takes about forty minutes without counting all the walking up to the train and back to his student housing.
That in particular is what sucks most about closings. During peak hours, the 4 runs Express, skipping most stops in the city, but after midnight, it goes Local. For almost two hours, the train stops and starts 25 times before Edward can get off, and that's not even taking into account if there is construction going on during the night. Then the trip becomes even longer.
Edward spends most of these late-night journeys uptown, listening to music and sometimes dozing off against the metal bar along the corner seat. However, on a few rare occasions when Edward finds himself alone in the train car, he's stays awake.
Whenever the car is empty, Edward sings out loud, mainly because he can.
It makes the long trip pass by faster for him. He belts out anything that the shuffle on his iPod decides to play. It doesn't matter how ridiculous the song is.
Some of his favorite songs to sing are 80's power ballads and anything by Queen. However, he pretty much sings anything with a real, stadium vibe. The acoustics in the train are great for it. It's like being in the shower, only far less clean.
Edward is two songs into his playlist when the couple gets off at 33rd Street. They make almost no sound as they walk off. Edward takes notice that no one gets on the train after them.
He can barely contain the smile that forms on his face. He's alone, but the next stop is Grand Central. He knows that people always get on at Grand Central, but it doesn't stop Edward from skimming his iPod for a song to sing. He's undecided by the time the train arrives at Grand Central.
He waits anxiously to see if anyone will get on the train, but once again, he's the only one in that car.
Edward smiles as he presses play on "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," by Journey.
He closes his eyes and begins to sing along with Steve Perry. He even begins playing air guitar along with Neal Schon.
With his eyes closed, Edward allows the movement of the train to tell him when the train stops. He presses pause on the song when he reaches the next stop and opens his eyes.
Noticing that he's once again alone, he presses play. He looks down at his watch and tells himself that it would be strange if anyone got on the train at this hours, especially the last car. So, he throws caution to the wind and continues to sing even as the trains stops at 59th Street.
Edward doesn't see that someone walks into what he thinks is an empty train car. Even as the song ends, he begins to sing the song that comes right after."
"Empty spaces - what are we living for? Abandoned places - I guess we know the score," he sings loudly. It isn't until the train stops again that Edward opens his eyes and notices the stranger smiling toward him.
Quickly, he pulls the headphones from his ears and apologizes for disturbing her. He notes that the train has stopped between two stations, but he doesn't know which.
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize someone got on."
"It's alright," the brunette replies. She smiles and slides down the row, so she's sitting right across from Edward. "You sing really well."
Edward chuckles nervously and begins to twirl the headphone wires in his hands. He's mortified. It's not the first time that he's been caught singing on the train, but it has never been by someone who looks to be the same age as him. The stranger has a young face and bright, brown eyes. She has a spattering of freckles along her rosy cheeks.
She's beautiful in an unconventional way, and exactly his type.
"Still. You're probably tired from work or whatever. I'll shut up now."
The train starts up once more and stops at 68th Street.
"No. Go ahead. The show must go on," the stranger jests and Edward laughs with her.
"You know what I was singing."
"Well, Queen isn't exactly an uncommon band."
"Most people wouldn't have recognized it just from the first few lines."
"Well, I grew up listening to all of that stuff. It was all my dad played in the car."
Edward nods uncomfortably. Conversations with strangers always make him nervous. He goes to put his headphones back in place, but the stranger continues talking.
"Are you coming from work?"
"Yeah. I work around Union Square. How about you?"
"Same. I work at the H&M on 59th," she answers. Her smile is contagious, and Edward can't help but smile in return.
"So where are you getting off? I promise I'm not some crazy stalker. I'm not gonna follow you home." Edward laughs at the rushed conclusion of her question.
"Do you go to the college?"
"Yeah. How about you?"
"I got to Hunter, but I live around 125th."
Edward nods his head and watches to see if anyone gets on at the 96th Street station. He counts off the next stops in his head. He has this beautiful stranger with him for another four stops.
"You're lucky. Your trip is pretty short compared to mine."
"Very true. It would be even better if I didn't have to work the closing shift. Then the train would have zoomed right by all these stops."
"Totally," Edward adds. "I hate working closings because the train runs Local. It's so slow, and with all this construction going on late at night, it's even worse."
"I know. It's takes forever to get anywhere. What's the point of public transportation, then? I might as well just sit in traffic."
Edward nods and smiles at how animated this girl is. She's interesting and a nice departure from his routine. He ticks off another stop on his mental list. Three more stops before the brunette gets off and thirteen more before he can.
"Are you from New York?" Edward asks the girl, and she nods her head enthusiastically.
"Born and raised in the city. I love New York. I can't imagine how differently my life would be if I had grown up somewhere else," she answers passionately. "I'm taking it that you're not, though. Right?"
"I'm from Chicago."
"The Windy City," she answers. "So are you a Cubs fan or Whitesox?"
"Cubbies, even though they break my heart every year." He chuckles along with Bella.
The train skips over the next two stops due to construction. Edward finds himself slightly panicking once they arrive at 116th street station. The next stop is the brunette's stop, and he's honestly enjoying her company. He doesn't want to stop talking with her. The thirteen stops after she gets off are going to be incredibly dull in comparison.
"Can I ask you for a favor?" She asks as the train starts up toward 125th.
"Sure. What would you like?" Edward is secretly hoping that she wants his phone number because he's too shy to ask for hers.
"My coworker gave me this crazy, old Polaroid, and I really want to see if it works. Would you mind if I took a photo of you?"
"Why not just take a photo of the train?" Edward asks. The stranger shakes her head no.
"I want to take a picture of something nice, and you're very nice to look at."
"Um," Edward stammers after she compliments him. He can feel the heat in his cheeks. He knows that he's blushing like a young schoolgirl.
"Please?" She pleads with a wide-eye stare that makes Edward wonder if anyone has ever told her no before. The look is devastating. He'd give her the moon if he could with that look.
"Sure. Why not."
The brunette smiles and stands up. She sits down beside him and pulls the camera from her bag. Edward is momentarily dazed by the vanilla scent wafting from her. She smells incredible.
"When is that from?" He asks, pointing at the ancient camera.
"I have no idea. I don't even know if it works. My coworker said there's film in it, though."
The two keep quiet as the train stops between 116th and 125th. Edward silently rejoices the blunders of the MTA. He likes how comfortable he feels around this girl, even after twenty minutes.
"How do you want to do this?" He asks to break the silence.
"I'm just gonna take a picture of the two of us. I'll click it twice, that way, you can have a copy as well."
"I'd like that," Edward says and immediately holds his breath. The brunette has wormed her way into his arms and was pointing the camera toward them.
"Smile," she says as the train begins moving once more.
Before Edward can say anything about her being in the picture, she snaps two photos.
The brunette turns her camera around and yanks the two photos from it to show Edward one of them. They each shake one of the instant film and wait a few moments for their photo to develop.
In the photo, Edward is sporting a nervous smile on his face, but the brunette's is bright. She's positively beaming.
"You know what the best part of this picture is?" The girl asks as she pulls away from him. She's still sitting thigh-to-thigh with him.
"No, but that's really sweet. The best part is that it'll never change."
Edward stares bewildered at the girl. He smiles without knowing why, and she begins to explain.
"In ten years from now, I'll no longer be the girl in this picture. Yet, every time I look at it, for that brief moment, I'll be the girl who kissed a stranger without knowing his name. I'll smile. I'll probably giggle. I'll wonder what the hell possessed me, and I'll wonder what happened to him, the boy with the gorgeous, green eyes. Then I'll put it away for another day."
"We haven't kissed," Edward points out. The charming stranger smiles knowingly. She grabs his face with both hands along his jaw line and pulls him toward her. She places her lips gently on his, and Edward lets her guide the kiss.
It's a sweet, delicate kiss. It such a contrast from the vivacious person he's kissing. Edward sits slightly stunned as she pulls apart from him.
"My name's Edward," he mumbles. He doesn't want to lose the feeling of her lips on his.
"That's nice," she remarks and stands. "It was nice meeting you, Edward."
"You're not going to tell me your name, are you?"
She shakes her head and steps out of the closing train doors.
"Please?" Edward pleads as he runs up to the closing train doors.
The stranger smiles and shakes the Polaroid in her hand and waves as the trains takes off from the station.
Edward sighs in frustration and looks down at the photograph. He smiles at that image and then notices the workplace nametag on her shirt.
"Bella," he says the name out loud. He likes the way it sounds. It's exactly what her name should be.
He smiles to himself once more and lays out on the long row of seats in the middle of the train car. He puts his headphones back on and begins singing again.
He still has ten more stops before he gets home, but it doesn't bother him.