Late at night on the subway platform a saxophone player in a white tank top and dress shoes was met by a standing ovation. A woman had been sitting on a bench listening, shaking her head and stomping her feet whenever Saxophone hit a riff that came straight from his bones, a place in his heart he was still searching for. He kept playing as the train banged down the tunnel, as its doors opened. “Thank you, thank you,” the woman kept saying, looking back. Saxophone smiled and closed his eyes. He lifted the bell of the sax into the air. “Love you,” the woman said, kissing her palm and holding it out, kissing again, shaking her head, kissing and kissing. “You,” she repeated, speaking loud. “I love you.”
Each morning when I board the train there’s an old man who plays the flute. His beard hits his chest and the frames of his glasses are thick, his hat wide. His fingernails are dirty but you can tell he’s proud. It’s his routine. It’s his day’s business to set up and play, not to find people who will listen but to make them. But I’m already anticipating the morning when his music is absent and when there’s new noise to fill his place, and I wonder if I’ll in some way miss him. I wonder if a week after he’s gone, or even after only a few days, I’ll forget to remember that he’d even been there, still hoping he’s become a beautiful ghost. But in another train station, or somewhere else—in a park, maybe, or on a street corner—Saxophone will be kissing back.