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As Leo makes her way toward the train station, the morning rain fall from the gloomy sky in little strips of diamonds. Moments later, Leo holds the pole while squeezed between someone’s backpack, someone’s backside and someone’s elbow near her face. The train rocks with gentle shifts and causes Leo’s feet to lift off the floor now and then.
The scent of aloe mixed with rotten apples, bits of sweat and fresh soap, lace the air. Leo doesn’t mind it but she does mind that people keeps moving themselves closer to her as if she is paper thin. She shifts a little. She looks up and there is the travel ad featuring a strange photograph of a pair of pandas frolicking in the sun. She almost laughs. Do pandas even smile like that?
The sudden halt of the train jolts Leo wildly about. She bumps her head against a backpack. She mutters some curses and grips onto the pole tighter. A muffled announcer mentions something about a fire and delays in all services. Leo closes her eyes and tries to imagine she is all by herself on the train and that if she wants companions, they would have to be cuddly and friendly.
The train moves again and someone’s arm hits her cheek. She opens her eyes to glare at the person but the arm is gone. And so is everyone else. Leo laughs lightly. She must be dreaming but somehow it doesn’t feels like a dream. The train shifts and she shifts with it.
Someone is watching her. She turns her head slowly to her right to see a pair of pandas seated there with a large, closed, white umbrella at their feet. Leo blinks and blinks but the pandas remains seated. Her eyes widen as one of the pandas begin to speak.
“Little lady, I wonder if you would be so kind as to tell me if this train goes to the Brooklyn Bridge?” His voice is thick but soft. At least she thinks it’s a he. The other panda is looking at her with her black eyes.
Leo nods her head. “Yes,” she says. “Yes, it does.” She loosens her grip on the pole and adjusts the strap of her bag.
Two stops later, the train opens its doors to the Brooklyn Bridge station. The pair of pandas stand up with their arms looped together. The male panda carries their umbrella pressed to his side. They step out of the train rather slowly. Their black and white fur shifts with each movements. Leo slowly follows them out of the train. She doesn’t know why but she wants to go with them. The train leaves the station and sends her long hair flying.
The pandas stop and turn around suddenly. Leo takes a step back. She almost cries out. Why is she following them? She have no idea.
“Little lady, would you like to join us for a walk on the bridge?” The panda’s black beaded eyes are like marbles under the yellow lights. The dark lines of his merged lips seems to grin.
Leo blinks. Does she want to? After all, she is already late for work, what’s another hour? She nods her head. The other panda seems to be smiling at her too.
Outside and on the bridge, the rain is still falling but the sky has brightened and bits of blue can be seen between the clouds. The male panda opens their white umbrella as they walk. Leo, too, pulls out her blue umbrella out of her bag. She listens to the sound the rain makes as it hits her umbrella. It’s not every day she walks on the bridge and is definitely not every day that she walks on the bridge with a pair of pandas. The pandas are almost as tall as she. The three of them walk side by side like old friends having just seen each other again.
As they are near the center of the bridge, the male panda exclaims, “What a lovely weather to take a walk. Look.” He points to a bunny in the clouds. Leo glances up and smiles. Indeed there is a bunny with its long ears sticking up.
They continue to walk in silence. Leo doesn’t feel any need to talk and the pandas seems content to just walk silently.
A jogger wearing all indigo runs pass them but she seems not to have noticed the pandas or Leo. A man holds a camera toward his face and presses the shutter button as he turns but he too seems oblivious to the panda’s presence even when his camera lens is pointing straight at them. A few people walk pass them but they hardly glance their way. Leo shrugs. If no one notices the pandas, who is she to tell them?
Towards the end of the bridge, the pandas stop. The male panda said, “We are visiting our children today. We will not return to walk back across the bridge. We hope you have enjoy the walk with us.”
Leo is a little disappointed but she smiles and says, “Yes, I have enjoyed it very much. Thank you.”
Both pandas nod their heads. “We bid you a good day,” said the male panda.
Leo watches the the pair turn and walk away. She doesn’t know why but she already misses them. She begins her return walk. Upon seeing that the rain has become very light, she closes her umbrella. She stops at the center of the bridge and watches as the clouds move. She likes standing there and looking down at the moving cars and the water. It’s as if she is at the top of the world. She feels light and cheerful as if all the bad feelings from the days before is gone. All gone.
Leo sighs. She must get to work. She checks her wist watch to find that it is barely 8:00. How can that be? She is sure it has been 9:00 when they stepped out of the train. She speeds up her steps anyway. Better to be early than late.
Back in the station, Leo waits for the train. An almost empty train arrives and she seats herself in the center bench and thinks about the pandas. Her lips can’t help but smile. She wishes she had asked them their names or taken some photos. No one will believe her but that is just as well. She can hardly believe it herself. She looks up and there is the photograph of the pandas but they are just standing about looking as normal as any pandas.
Later, as Leo is seated in her cubicle, thoughts of the pandas makes her smile all over again.
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