Seatmate

The Nice Thing About Strangers

On the train from Novi Sad to Budapest, a woman parks herself right next to me, though half of the train is empty. Perhaps she wants a guaranteed seat next to a female. Perhaps I look friendly without really trying–this is my usual state in repose.  She tries to speak to me in several languages before we get to German, where we find some common ground. Still, it was as though someone had taken a German dictionary and tore is in half–giving her the first part and me only the second. There was very little overlap. We never make much conversational progress.

Her husband or boyfriend begins sending her text messages every ten minutes. She reads them and presses the phone to her chest in joy. Then she would show the phone to me, “Shau mal.” Look.  “Deutsch Deutsch, lese lese.” As though I could read it, since she said…

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