Love on the 452

Photo by Andrew Welch on Unsplash

A Romance in 1000 Words By Carrie Turansky

The first note appeared in my lap one rainy afternoon as I rode the 4:52 train home from work. I didn’t see it until I pulled my gaze from the rain-spattered train window to prepare to get off at my stop. I’m not really surprised I missed seeing who’d dropped it there. I’d been crying most of the way home from Philadelphia.

That afternoon I’d found out I’d been passed over for a promotion at work, my sister called to cancel her upcoming visit, and worst of all, my dog Hemingway had been missing for two days. Curious about where the note came from, I glanced around the car. No one looked my way. Some read novels or newspapers, others worked on laptops or slept, and a few simply stared out the window lost in their own world, as I had been moments before.

I looked at the note in my hand. Who would pass me a message on a commuter train? I slowly unfolded it. The strong, neat handwriting gave the impression the author was a male with an artistic bent.

I see you crying. I’m sorry you’re hurting. Don’t give up. Things will get better. I’ll be praying for you.
R.

I blinked away a fresh round of tears, and read the note once more, savoring each caring phrase. Then I carefully refolded it and slipped it into my coat pocket. Someone saw and cared. Someone prayed for me. I smiled and my spirit lifted.

The following afternoon I dashed around the puddles and prayed I’d make the 4:52. Hemingway was still missing, but things were more positive at work. As I took my usual seat in the third row from the front, a young woman with long red hair sat down next to me. We were soon laughing and sharing war stories about working in downtown Philly. I even showed her the note.

As I smiled and waved goodbye to her, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and an older gentleman handed me a note. I stared at him, and he chuckled. “Don’t look so worried. It’s not from me. Someone passed it up from the back.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled, blushing, and accepted the second note.

Glad to see you smiling today. I guess you must be feeling better. See, prayer works. I hope you have a nice weekend. I’ll keep praying for you.

Your Commuter Prayer Buddy,

R.

At the bottom he’d sketched a drawing of me smiling. I laughed softly, looking at the sketch. It was surprisingly good. Then I read the note again before I folded it and hid it in my pocket along with the first.

On Monday, I stopped to check my hair and makeup before I made the mad dash for the 4:52. Thirty minutes later, as crossed the river into New Jersey, I sunk lower in my seat and sighed. No note. No message. Nothing. Where was R.?

Only two minutes from my station, I grabbed a blank piece of paper from my bag and quickly scribbled a message.

Dear R.,

Thanks for your notes and prayers. Most people are too wrapped up in themselves to notice anyone else. I do believe in prayer. I appreciate the reminder that I can always take my problems to the One who is never too busy to listen. I had a good weekend. I found my dog Hemingway! He’s been lost of six days. I’m sure that’s partly due to your prayers. I’ll say a prayer for you too.

Lisa, your friend on the 4:52

As the train pulled to a stop, I hesitated, feeling silly. Would he get my note? I had to try. I quickly wrote: To R. on the 4:52. People stared at me as I attached the note to the window with an old sticker from my purse. With flaming cheeks, I made a quick exit, feeling both foolish and hopeful.

Over the next two weeks we exchanged several other notes, each one revealing a little more. But this note changed everything:

Lisa,

This all started because I saw you crying and wanted to help. But over the last few weeks, I’ve become very intrigued by you. I would like to meet you and have a chance to get to know you, but there is no pressure from me. If you’re married or dating someone else, I understand. This will be my last note. If you’d like to meet, then ride the 4:52 tomorrow.

Ray

I bought a new blue sweater on my lunch break, and I watched the clock all afternoon. I left work at exactly 4:30, but a fire across from my building closed the street and I had to run three blocks out of my way.

I missed the 4:52 and my chance to meet Ray.

Tears blurred my eyes as I boarded the 5:03 and fought off a miserable wave of helplessness. I excused myself up the crowded aisle looking for a vacant seat.

When I reached the third row, I stopped and stared. A dozen red roses lay in my seat. A handsome man with wavy dark brown hair sat in the aisle seat next to mine. He wore a charcoal business suite with an eye-catching red tie.

I smiled, hope rising in my heart. “Excuse me. Is that seat taken?”

He glanced at me, and a slight smile lifted the corners of his mouth. “Well, I was saving it for someone . . . but she’s late . . . so would you like to sit down?” His brown eyes danced with amusement.

I nodded and bit my lip.

He reached for the roses, then stood and moved into the aisle. For a moment we stood face-to-face, smiling into each other’s eyes. “When you didn’t get on the 4:52, I took a chance and waited for the 5:03.” Ray handed me the roses.

My smile bloomed, and I hoped it would express what my words could not. I lifted the bouquet to my nose and inhaled their sweet scent. “Thank you, Ray. They’re beautiful.”

We sat down together in the third row, and we laughed and talked all the way to New Jersey.