Fear The Dawn: Chapter 11

Aidan looked at his watch. “It's after 7 now, the 6:15 train will be just about to the station.” He sighed. “I wonder what Nisha's doing right now?”
Of all the days to be late for work, he had to pick the one after he met a cute girl. Now she probably wasn't going to remember that they had talked and it would be like it never happened. Stupid! How could he have forgot to reset the alarm clock? Aidan kicked the underside of the bench, frustrated with himself, and turned his drooped head to look down the platform. The train still wasn't here yet.

Don't tell me you were waiting for me?”
Aidan wheeled around so fast he almost fell off the bench.
Nisha noted the shocked expression on his face and sat down beside him. “I guess not.”
Nisha, hi!... um, it's really nice to see you”, he stammered. He took a moment to regain his composure. “I was working late and I missed my train.”
Me too”, she sighed, her long black hair falling over her shoulders as she dipped her head. “It's going to be so late before I get home.”
I wouldn't have thought artists usually had to work late.”
I'm an animator. The hours are usually not so bad but when we get close to our deadlines there's a lot of overtime.”
That sounds interesting, what kinds of things do you animate?”
Oh, it's nothing exciting.” She twirled a strand of her hair in her finger. “We do a lot of little animation jobs for commercials and business and things like that.”
Oh, okay.”
I told you it wasn't anything exciting.”
Well, it can't be more boring than what I do, I work for a lending firm and spend all day approving loans”.
Are you one of those guys who gets a seven figure bonus every year?”
If I was, I probably wouldn't be sitting here waiting for the train.”
I don't know”, she giggled, “maybe you wanted to meet a girl.”
If I had that kind of money then I'd be waiting for the girl aboard my yacht.”
Ooh, do you have a yacht? Boats are so romantic.”
He grinned. “That must be why all those old guys are always buying them.”
Nisha turned up her nose. “Don't men have any interest in romance?”
Well, I thought watching the full moon over the bay was romantic.”
You wouldn't have even noticed it if I wasn't there.”
Well, I never had anyone worth noticing it with before.”
She rolled her eyes. “I guess that's why you're a banker and I'm an artist.”
Hey, I notice things occasionally. For one thing, the train's coming.”

The platform was not busy, and they were among the first people to get on board, so they had their choice of where to sit. This made Aidan a bit nervous, he wasn't sure if he could simply sit beside her without asking when there were plenty of seats available. He took a deep breath and quickly sat down in the seat beside her, half expecting her to shoo him away, but she didn't say anything. He breathed a deep sigh of relief and stored his briefcase under his seat.

So what do you keep in that thing, anyway? Don't tell me that even after a long day like this you still have to take more work home?”
Oh”, he said, lifting his head back up, “I've got a few meeting notes and cases I'm working on in there, but actually a lot of it is just my lunch. It looks a lot more professional than a plastic bag, that's the main reason I have it.”
Maybe I should get one of those for my sketchbook. It'd help save me from losing so many of my drawings.”
Aidan scratched his chin. “Are artists allowed to be well-organized? They might revoke your creative person status.”
She laughed. “There's no risk of that, you should see my desk at work. I can find everything I need, but if anyone else tries to sit there, it'll eat them.” She doodled a quick sketch of an open desk with angry eyes and big pointy teeth on her pad.
Could it eat my forms? That way I could go home earlier.”
Oh, it loves paper. I feed it a healthy diet of bad sketches and old storyboards and none of them are ever seen again.”

They talked about work for a while. Aidan found it was very easy to talk to her, and he was very pleased that she seemed to be getting more comfortable around him. She was a little goofy, which he hadn't expected at first, but he enjoyed talking to her anyway. Before he even realized how much time had gone by they were most of the way back to the station.

We're almost home”, she noted, more observant than he was, “this horribly long day is finally almost over.”
I know, it feels like this morning was last week. The end kind of made up for it, though.”
Yeah, I had fun”, she smiled. She really had a pretty smile. “I'm glad you were here.”
Spurred on by her kind words, he mustered up all of his courage. “If you don't mind this long and crummy day getting a little bit longer, maybe we could go out for coffee when we get back the station?” He said it all in one breath and quickly felt self-conscious about it. “...If you want to get home, though, I'd understand”, he added hastily.
I'd love to.” She put her hand on top of his and smiled warmly at him, which really made him sweat. He hoped she didn't notice and tried not to look directly at her. The last few minutes were fairly quiet, Aidan spent most of the time just enjoying the feeling of her hand on top of his.

The train pulled into the station and Aidan climbed down to the platform. He extended his hand to her to come down, and she locked arms with him when they were both safely off the train. “Shall we?” she asked. He reached out for her hand, and she let him hold it, and arm in arm they walked off to the little coffee shop by the station, which was mostly deserted at this time of night. They chose a small table and sat opposite each other, and Aidan couldn't take his eyes off of her. Her smooth face, her long brown hair, her modest but perky breasts and slender frame, everything about her was just so sleek and sexy. He found his mind wandering to dirty thoughts, and tried to push them away, but they just kept coming back. He couldn't believe how intensely he wanted her after only knowing her for a few days. This must have been what he was missing after all.

With no other apparent option for breaking the silence, he decided to be direct. “There's something I have to get off my chest”, he started, “I know we haven't known each other for a long time, but I really like you. You're fun to talk to and really pretty.”
She laughed, which he hadn't expected at all. “I know” she said, smiling widely at him, “you're very obvious. I've known how you felt since the first time I saw you.”
Aidan was actually a little offended. “If you knew, then why did you make me say it?”
She laughed again. “It's still nice to hear it from someone. Besides, I needed to know that you weren't a creep.” She noted his sour expression and softened her tone. “I like you too, Aidan, you're very cute and charming.”
He felt himself going very red, which he was sure she noticed and it only made him feel more embarrassed. “So do you want to go back to my place now and just get it over with?” he asked, sarcastically, but if she agreed he probably wouldn't have refused.
She giggled. “Let's have coffee first, okay?” The waitress arrived to take their order and he started to feel a bit more relaxed. “What's your living arrangement, anyway? Family? Siblings?”
I live alone”, he responded. “I've got an apartment near here that I've had for a while.”
Oh, so we really could head back there once we finish our coffee”. He shuffled uncomfortably. “I'm kidding”, she reassured him. “I do need to get home eventually or my parents will start to worry.”
You couldn't just head home tomorrow morning and tell them you spent the night with a guy you met on the train?”
Maybe if I wanted them to start renting out my room.”
That's too bad”, he said, feigning disappointment.
I'm sorry”, she said, matching his tone, “I can tell how much you want to”. She flicked her hair back and puffed out her chest a little, teasing him. He doubted she actually had any idea how much he wanted to, but he kept quiet about that. His eyes were all over her body again, but he stopped himself. “I'm not that kind of guy”, he reminded himself, but he found his eyes wandering again before long.

Anyway”, she said, “tell me a bit more about yourself. What do you like to do when you get home from work?”
Actually, I don't get a lot of free time. I work long hours, and I live alone, so I have to do various chores when I get home. What time I do get to myself I typically spend doing pretty normal things, like watching TV and using my computer.”
Well, do you like your job at all? What made you want to go into finance?”
My job is okay, but it can be very repetitive and the hours are long. The main appeal of finance was that it pays well, there's plenty of jobs, and it's stable. It has the potential to be interesting but you have to get to a position where you can make decisions first.” His life wasn't really very interesting, and he didn't want to let that kill the conversation. “What about you? How did you become interested in art?”

Well”, she said, pausing for a moment, “I had a pretty lonely childhood. I don't have any siblings, and I was always shy and didn't have a lot of friends. I spent a lot of time watching cartoons because it let me go on adventures that I was too shy to do in real life. Unfortunately, there weren't really a lot of cartoons that were made for little girls, there were tons of superheroes and warriors and the like, but not many real role models for girls, so I made my own. I came up with this girl who could go into people's dreams and help them, and I spent a lot of my childhood drawing her adventures. She didn't have any magical powers or anything like that, she would just help people realize that they had what they needed to be happy inside of them. That idea has always kind of stuck with me, and some day I'd like to turn it into a show for kids, so they'd know that you don't have to be someone extraordinary to feel good about yourself. And that's what lead to me becoming an animator.”

While they were talking, Aidan was reminded of a similar conversation from a number of years ago. He was having lunch with Tina at the university cafeteria, and they had gotten to discussing their various futures.

I'm still not sure what courses I should take next year”, Tina thought aloud, pouring over the course calendar and ignoring her lunch.
Aidan was not so worried. “We only have a few electives in second year, what's so complicated about that?” He took another bite of his hamburger.
I don't know, I want to take some different things. Maybe I'll take some of the compulsory courses in third year to free up some more space. Ugh, I don't know!” she flipped back and forth through the little book frantically.
What is it that you're so eager to take, anyway?”
Something else. Aidan, you saw how our first year courses were, are you sure you want to continue with finance?”
I'm sure it'll get better, first year is always about weeding people out. Besides, the monotony of our lectures provides good fodder for my comic strip. They printed it in the campus paper again this week, did you see it? 'Fixed-rate financing? How can I lose?', and in the next panel, he's living in a box at Prime + 5%.”
Aidan, when we finally get out of here, what is it that you want to do?”
He didn't even look up from his food. “I don't know, get a job at a bank or something.”
I don't think I can do that” she said, looking down at the table. “The only part of our courses I really enjoyed was our writing assignments. I think I want to be a writer. Maybe I could write for a business magazine or something.”
That kind of job is hard to get.”
I know”, she sighed, “but I think I'd be much happier. What about you? You enjoy comedy, don't you want to do anything with it?”
It's not a reliable business. You work all the time trying to come up with material and even then most people never get anywhere.”
But if it makes you happy, it can be worth it. Especially if you've got someone who supports your dream.” He hadn't realized it at the time, but she was sizing him up even back then, much the same way Nisha was now.
But what would I do if I wanted to have a family and I couldn't make any money? I'd much rather have a reliable job where it wouldn't be an issue. I can always continue being hilarious on the side.”
I don't know” she said, putting her head in her hands. “I wish I knew what to do with my life...”

Nisha shook her head. “Good old crazy Nisha, I've known a guy for like 3 days and I'm already telling him about Dream Girl. You can probably see why I never had a lot of friends.”
Aidan snapped back to his senses. “No, no, you've got the wrong idea. I think it's great that you have a dream and you're so passionate about it. I was just thinking, I don't really have any great ambition like that. All I wanted was to get a job that paid well and I didn't totally hate and maybe find a nice girl to come home to.”
She smiled warmly at him, clearly relieved. “I think that's a fine ambition. Dreams don't have to be big to be meaningful, and finding someone you love and making a relationship work is an accomplishment in itself. You have nothing to be ashamed of if that's what you want.”
How about you? Are you looking for someone in your life?”
Nisha was a bit taken aback by his question, she mustn't have been expecting it. “Yes”, she said, “I think I could be.”
He was pleased to have finally gotten the upper hand on her, but they were quickly finishing their coffee and he once again found himself at a loss for what to say next. He knew that he had to say something if he wanted things to progress further.
I'd really like to see you again. Would you like to see a movie this weekend?”
What's playing?”
I'm not sure”, he admitted, embarrassed. “But I'm sure I'll find something before then.”
All right”, she laughed, “surprise me. I really do have to get going now, though. Thanks for coffee, Aidan, if I don't see you again before Friday, call me.” She wrote her number on a little piece of paper and gave it to him, then he paid for their drinks and they left. He walked her to the end of the street, and she headed home. Aidan strolled home as well, feeling jubilant. He finally had a date!

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