Your mind is wandering. You’ve made this journey so many times, the whole trip is as automated as the escalator. Adverts for cosmetic surgery and stage adaptations of already popular films wash over you as you let it carry you down.
Then it hits you. Or, more accurately, they hit you.
You see them coming up on the other side and then, for no discernable reason, your eyes meet. And it’s like someone has stuck a lance in your heart. It’s like someone has flicked a switch in your chest and made your lungs light up and like your stomach has just filled with blossom. In a city where no one makes eye contact, where everyone is hermetically sealed in their own antiseptic bubbles, some connection leaps between you.
You don’t quite know what it is or why it’s happening or why it’s this person and why it’s this time and it scares you a bit, but in a good way. As you slowly, inexorably, come closer together you can feel something rising inside you and it feels like this is the most exciting moment of your life. And you see that they feel it too, but you’re still both hedging your bets, not wanting to give too much away in case you’re wrong.
You’re now nearly opposite each other and you think how ridiculous it is that something as mundane as a moving staircase has brought you together. But as you reach each other – so close you could actually reach out and touch each other – you both look away. Is it shyness? Propriety? Taking preventions to preserve your pride?
And then it’s already too late. The one moment you had, you blinked and it was gone.
And now you’re past each other, and whatever has brought you together is slowly taking you further and further apart. For the first time, you realise that you were always moving in opposite directions and that however much their eyes had closed the space between you like someone closing a telescope, there was always a barrier in the way.
And you see that you have a choice. It’s not the first time you’ve had this choice, but it could be the first time you take it, rather than letting it pass away. You can turn around and run up the escalator after them, and risk maybe not finding them waiting at the top but know that at least you tried and that maybe you got your answer. Or you can carry on your way like every other morning and go to work, and wonder whether something could have happened, and wonder whether they’ll be wondering whether something could have happened, and long for what might have been every time you go down here.
So, what do you do?
If you decide to continue down the escalator: turn to page 2
If you decide to turn around and go up after them: turn to page 17