The Angel in Grand Central Station



Is Retired.
May 6, 2006
Denver, CO
FOREWORD: You guys said that you'd like to see more from me, so I thought I'd post one of my more normal stories.

I remember that night like it was only yesterday. The wind was cold, biting at the parts of my neck and face that weren’t covered by my scarf. It was almost Christmas, only a few more weeks to go. All the other college students were going home, eager to see their family and friends. I was going home to an almost empty house and a man looking for happiness at the bottom of a bottle. I would be taking a train home from Grand Central Station. My father lived in Poughkeepsie. Our family has always lived in Poughkeepsie. I hated that city when I was younger. I hated that it reminded me of my family, and I hated that no matter how hard I tried I would always call it home. My mother left home when I was only eight. She ran away from her responsibilities to my sister and me; she continued running straight into a tree at eighty miles per hour about thirty miles outside of town according to the police report. My dad ran into a bottle of whiskey, and he never came back. He died with a bottle in his hand and a cigarette still burning in the ash tray about three years after I met you.

I remember that night though, and I remember you. I stumbled into Grand Central Station. My teeth were chattering; my face was burning from the cold. I saw you standing in the middle of the room. It was like in those movies where the spotlight shines down, everyone else is in slow motion, and all the focus is on this beautiful woman. You were wearing a plaid dress and this silly Christmas sweater over top of it. The sweater had two kittens with reindeer horns, playing with a ball of red and green yarn. You looked lost. Your hair was the most brilliantly vibrant red, and I could see the green in your eyes from across Grand Central. I never saw myself as a charming man; I was timid and always felt lonely and overwhelmed in crowds, but it was like you reached out, grabbed me from the crowd, and pulled me to you though. I found myself in front of you, stammering, “A-a-are you lost, miss?” You smiled with the most radiantly beautiful smile I’ve ever seen and said, “Yeah, I’m looking for a bus to Hoboken, but I have no idea where anything is here.” You explained that you were going home for Christmas, too, and left your car at your aunt’s house in Hoboken. You were going to spend the night with her and finish driving home to Scotch Plains. You told me that this was your first time in Grand Central since you had attended school in New Jersey before this semester. We walked to the ticket office and got you a bus ticket. Your bus wasn’t leaving for another two hours; my train was leaving in fifteen minutes. I asked if you wanted to get a drink, and you said, “That sounds like the most wonderful idea I’ve heard all night.”

We walked down to a small bar down the street, and we talked about what we were going home to. I told you about my mother and my father. I told you about how I spent every Christmas taking care of my father in his drunken stupors. You told me about your parents, taking big gulps of beer as you did. You were an only child, and your dad walked out on you when you were two years old. You were twenty at the time and had found him again just two years earlier. It turned out that he was a drug addict, and finding him was one of the worst mistakes you ever made. He sends you letters asking for money every month. You never reply and just burn them. Your mother was a paragon of virtue though. She raised you by herself and spoiled you rotten. You didn’t know your mother barely made any money until you were almost an adult. She worked three jobs and somehow still always had time for you. You had spent every Christmas with her, and you loved her more than anything. After you had finished your story, I looked down at my watch. It had been over an hour since my train left. I told you what I had done. You smiled that wonderful smile and told me, “You’re cute. I can’t say I’ve had a boy miss a train for me before. I guess it would only be right of me to miss my bus home.”

We spent what little money we had left to pay for our drinks and started the walk back to my little apartment nearby. We talked, and it began to snow a little bit. You told me that you went to Baruch College and were studying business. I was going to New York University for a degree in English. We made jokes about my degree, and we both laughed. I hear a laugh from time to time like yours as I walk across campus to the next classroom, and my heart skips a beat. We finally made it back to the apartment, shivering and damp from the snow. My roommate, Rupert, an exchange student from England, handed us a bottle of wine and said that he was headed out to a party a girl he knew was throwing. He had been keeping the bottle for a special occasion and said that you seemed special enough to merit the wine. He winked at me before heading out. We retreated to my room, and you climbed onto my bed with your back leaned against the wall. We sipped wine, smoked cigarettes, and discussed politics, philosophy and literature. We talked about what we thought about the president. You told me that your favorite writer was F. Scott Fitzgerald. I told you that I loved J.D. Salinger. I don’t know how it happened, but you were talking about poetry and existentialism when I found that I had pressed my lips firmly against yours. You stopped talking, and we just looked at each other for what seemed like forever. My heart was pounding in my throat, and I can honestly say that nothing in my life compares to the excitement of that first kiss with you. You curled one side of your mouth into a smile and pushed your hair over your ear. You pulled me to you and kissed me again. In my memory, there were fireworks going off, and there was a marching band walking through the living room. We had a crowd of people clapping and cheering for us in that dimly lit apartment. We made love that night and fell asleep in each other’s arms.
We woke up in the morning, and you called your mother. You told her what had happened, and I could hear her yelling on the other side. You cried, and I held you as you finished the call. She was mad that you hadn’t come home when you were expected. My apartment was cold, and it had begun to snow again while you were on the phone. We stayed in bed all day. We sipped coffee, continued our discussions from the night before, and intermingled kissing between the two. You told me, “This is what I always expected from New York.” I told you that you were the kind of girl that I only thought were in the books I’d read. You stayed another night, and we stayed up playing board games with Rupert and the girl whose party he had attended. You told me that you thought this was all a dream and left on a bus to Hoboken in the morning.

We kept in contact through phone calls and letters over the holiday. I stayed in New York and spent the holiday with Rupert and his new girlfriend. You told me that you spent the holiday with your mother but were excited to return to New York. You stopped calling and stopped picking up as it got closer to the start of the new semester, and I sent a letter and never got a reply. Two weeks into the semester, I received a letter from California. You had moved to the other side of the country with your mother and had started attending a college there instead. You didn’t include a return address or a phone number. You told me that you would always remember that time we spent together and signed the bottom of the letter with a kiss. I never threw that letter away against my better judgment.

I’ve been married three times – divorced twice, and widowed once – since that night. I don’t know what happened to you, but I like to imagine that you’re happily married with two kids. The kids are beautiful, and you’re married to some wealthy, charming, and handsome man who takes care of you wonderfully. My life has been a rollercoaster of victories and heartbreaks, of love and loss. I’ve never let go of those days though. I like to believe that one day that the strange winds of life will blow you back into my life, and we can share another drink together. Until then, you’ll always be that beautiful red head in the plaid dress and silly cat sweater who added some light to my otherwise dim life, and I guess you could say that I never quite moved on.


The Traveler
Sep 25, 2010
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This was a really charming story. I took my time reading it and fell in love with it. And I wasn't expecting that kind of outcome for an ending, but it has a kind of hopeful note at the end despite the reality of them not meeting ever again, cause I have a hard time imagining they would. Like it'd be a miracle if they found a way to see one another again. But I like how the guy continued to live his life after that fateful encounter because, it shows that life goes on. Admittedly it's a little sad everyone he's been with after hasn't... lasted. Again, thank you for sharing it with us.