It had been a long day at work. Sadie’s shoulders were beginning to ache after sitting at her desk for so long, and her fingers had cramped up from 4 hours of non-stop typing at her computer.
Thankfully, her legs were still intact, and could transport her exhausted body into the subway.
The cabin car was surprisingly empty, so Sadie found a seat with ease, only needing to carefully step over the pile of unknown goop on the floor to get to the seat.
Plowing through the myriad of items in her handbag, she finally fished out her handphone.
“5 missed calls from Mom.” Sadie checked the time on her phone, then sighed. 9:42 PM. Looks like she overshot her working hours again. No wonder the cabin was so empty.
Her mother had always been nagging at her for working too long, preaching endless sermons about “being together as a family”, and about Sadie needing to “spend more time with us before we leave this earth”. Sadie’s migraine picked up at this thought, and she groaned softly under her breath.
‘Screw this,’ she thought, ‘I never get back early enough for her, and she forgets I’m the only breadwinner in the family who stayed to look after her and Dad. It’s been a long day, I need a break.’
Plunging her hand into her handbag once more, she carefully untangled her earphones from the fabric of the pouch they were in, and plugged them into her phone.
She scrolled through the seemingly endless number of playlists on her Spotify app, then her gaze landed on her Japanese music playlist.
Sadie smiled. As a teenager, she had been obsessed with anime and Japanese culture, and the number of songs in the playlist showed. 103 songs, carefully curated by her younger self, all for her own listening pleasure.
It was decided, then. As the music began to play in her ears, Sadie sank back into her seat, head resting against the window of the subway cabin car.
Beside her, she saw a flicker of movement. So exhausted was she, that she didn’t even notice the guy sitting next to her. ‘No matter,’ she thought, ‘he’s probably preoccupied with his own stuff too.’
But something nagged at her from the back of her head. She leant forward slightly, subtly, and she saw the guy’s foot tapping.
Her eyes darted to his ears, and she saw that he didn’t have any earphones in.
Gradually, she let her eyes drift to his face, and her heart skipped a beat.
‘Gosh, he’s actually really cute,’ she thought, slightly breathless. Then, she paused. ‘He’s not listening to earphones, so what is he tapping his foot to?’
Sadie stared down at her lap, then something hit her. ‘That’s preposterous’, she thought, but still she went ahead with it.
In her mind, she started counting the beats of her music.
‘Onetwothreefour onetwothreefour onetwothreefour...’
Her index finger began to tap on her lap, and from the corner of her eye, she realised that the guy’s foot was matching the rhythm of her finger.
A flush crept up Sadie’s neck. For some reason, he was listening to her music.
Was he? She decided to do one last thing to test her theory. Her thumb swiped right, and the music changed.
The guy’s foot stopped tapping. Sadie sighed and leant back into her seat. She was just being silly. Then, she sat back up, and watched his foot.
It was tapping.
Again, she counted the beats, and her finger and his foot once again beat to the same timing.
Her heart quickened. He was listening to her music.
Her mouth went dry, and her hands started shaking very, very slightly.
Before her brain had caught up to her body, she removed one of her earphones and tapped the guy on the shoulder.
He looked up at her, and smiled, a little sheepishly. Her breath caught, and for a moment, Sadie was speechless.
“Yes?” He asked. His voice wasn’t very deep, but it was very smooth, and very swoon-worthy.
“I-is my music t-too loud? A-am I, uh, d-disturbing you?” Sadie managed to stutter out, then cursed herself internally. Normally she could talk circles around anybody, but she just HAD to stammer now.
“No,” he replied, to her astonishment. “On the contrary. You have good taste in music.” He smiled at her again, this time much more confidently, and Sadie could feel the blood rushing to her face.
“T-thanks. I-I’m Sadie.”
Throughout the ride home, she found herself gradually opening up to Ivan, and he to her. The conversation they had was refreshing and engaging, and Sadie found herself laughing at several things he said. Slowly, she realised the tension in her body was gradually leaching out of her, as they both talked excitedly about their favourite music. She was surprised to realise that someone was as into the Pink Floyd as her, but they did have a very animated discussion about which song was their best. She thought it was “Comfortably Numb”; he disagreed. To him, it was “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 1.”
Too soon, her stop arrived, and she, sadly, got out of her seat.
“Sadie.” Ivan called. She turned, and he smiled at her again, this time holding out his phone.
“I had a great time talking to you, and I hope that we get to do this again.” She didn’t even realise she was smiling too until she felt the edge of her mouth pulling up.
“I did too,” and it was true. Ivan was unlike anyone she had ever met, and she longed to speak with him again.
She entered her number into his phone. He did the same for her, then she waved to him outside the window of the cabin car.
She sighed, and then opened her phone. In the contacts app, Ivan had entered his number, and under name, he wrote “Ivan, Subway Foot-tapper.”
In spite of herself, she grinned widely, then let out a little giggle.
She couldn’t wait to hear his voice again.