They boarded the Penn Station bound subway car. Clara and James were planning to take the train from Penn Station down to Washington, DC for a long weekend of capital sightseeing. Given the late hour, the subway was practically deserted. Clara selected a seat near the doors and James sat down next to her, casually surveying the other occupants. Then, in a flurry of motion, he proceeded to rip off his heavy scarf and gloves, a look of maniacal glee spreading across his face like a small child tossing aside his constricting bathing suit before running into the ocean, skin deliciously bare and unencumbered. “What is happening here?” Clara asked as she sweepingly gestured towards James’ head and torso with her gloved hands. The look of glee spread even further across his face. “Well, we don’t have to go outside again until we get to DC, so I thought I would go ahead and take my scarf and gloves off now since I’m already hot.”
Clara giggled with delight at James’ obvious enjoyment of the whole situation. It was during moments like this one that Clara believed James had exposed his real self to her and her alone. During these moments she felt special, exceptional even, because James had chosen her – Clara, of all people! – to protect some essential part of himself, to safely hide it away from the harsh judgment of those around them. James’ earnestness and sincerity was so completely genuine in this moment that it was simultaneously breathtaking and heartbreaking. Clara wanted to crystallize this interaction, to capture it in a jar like a firefly, to hold onto it forever because, momentarily, she was more in love with James than she had thought physically possible.