Prompt Images

Harmony Meadows sat quietly in the train station, absentmindedly flipping through the paperback she had picked up at Hudson News. She was excited to leave town for a while. The city had just gotten so… stressful. Harmony refocused on the book, trying to clear her mind of everything else weighing on her. With her free hand, she tapped her fingers against the bench while occasionally dipping into her bag of sesame sticks she had picked up with the paperback.

Harmony was so focused on the story and trying to clear her mind of intrusive thoughts regarding recent events, she didn’t even realize a man had sat next to her. It wasn’t until she dug into her purse for a napkin to wipe the salt dust off her fingers that she noticed him. And he was incredibly handsome.

Lightly sun-kissed skin. A very flattering haircut. A crisp polo shirt and slacks which made it apparent he worked out frequently.

It was only after he looked over at her that Harmony realized she was staring. She blushed when she heard her teeth click together, as she was gazing at him, mouth agog. Harmony quickly averted her eyes, reading a paragraph she had read at least three times already. She didn’t know what to do when the adonis sitting next to her actually spoke to her.

“What are you reading?” he asked.

Harmony looked over and saw a bright white smile, lined with perfect teeth. Dimples framed that smile. The stranger’s voice was deep but melodic. She felt heat rushing up to her cheeks.

Harmony gulped. “Oh, it’s one of those British ‘women in distress’ books. Did she really witness a murder? Or was she high on pills? Everyone’s a suspect!” She was embarrassed to hear her voice come out a few octaves than it normally would. She quickly reminded herself she didn’t need to be so nervous. This man was a random stranger. Once she boarded her train, they would both be a distant memory to each other.

“Oh, I’ve read a few of those. I’m more a fan of true crime and horror. The classics. King, ya know?” The man looked up at the departures board. “Where are you headed, Miss Meadows?”

Harmony blanched and felt sweat break out on her brow. How did he know her name?

The man must’ve seen the panic on her face and quickly threw his hands up in defense.

“I’m sorry. It’s on your bag. I should’ve been more tactful. I’m not very good at this.”

Harmony calmed but not enough to let her guard down totally. “Oh, it’s fine,” she murmured. “I’m taking some time away. You know, get out of the city.”

The man nodded and Harmony could not ignore the fact he seemed so at ease with himself. And, if she was interpreting the signals correctly, he was interested in her. For one, he had made the choice to sit next to her in a completely empty train station. He was turned squarely towards her, which she knew from her college communication courses was a sign of attraction, or at least interest.

And he didn’t seem distracted at all. He wasn’t looking around. He was looking at her and only her.

“I see that. We all need to escape our lives sometimes. I’m here because of work, so your final destination will probably be a bit more restful and relaxing. I’m Danilo, but people call me Danny for short. It’s nice to meet you Ms. Meadows.” He extended his hand.

Harmony had always been taught not to be rude. She knew that’s why she always had a problem saying no to her boss whenever she asked her to stay late. And when she was stressed because of her workload, she could never say no to another drink or another shot. So, for fear of being misjudged by this handsome stranger, she took his hand in hers. It was strong. When she pulled her hand away, it tingled. She knew it would smell like him. Fabric softener, lightly burning embers, and fresh rain.

Danny looked at Harmony, and she held his gaze. His eyes were crystal blue, and Harmony felt herself blushing again. She had always been considered pretty, but never a bombshell that would attract the type of man sitting across from her at this moment.

Harmony stammered, “and my first name is Harmony, by the way. Ms. Meadows is way too formal.”

Danny laughed and opted to keep the conversation going.

“Were your parents hippies or something?”

Harmony had heard this before, but from Danny, it didn’t seem like an insult. It seemed like he was naturally inquisitive and was attempting to get to know her better. Although she was still nervous about sharing too much with this stranger, she relaxed her self-imposed rules because once her train left, they would never see each other again. He was going to Connecticut, she was going somewhere else.

“No, no, no,” Harmony responded with her best attempt at a coy smile. Just… creative.”

Danny seemed to accept the answer. “Since we’re new friends, Harmony. Why aren’t you driving to your final destination?”

Harmony thought very carefully before responding. “My car couldn’t make the trip.” She felt that was an acceptable response that wouldn’t give too much away.

Danny nodded and seemed to accept the vagueness of her response.

“And since it’s a getaway, why not celebrate with some champagne in the dining cart, right?”

Harmony felt herself tighten up. “Oh, I don’t drink much these days.” She looked over, and his gaze had not strayed. Danny looked at her intently.

“Oh, I’m sorry. It appears I’ve put my foot in my mouth.” He frowned apologetically and he placed his hand lightly on her wrist.

Although everything in her body told her to pull away, it had been a long time since anyone had shown her genuine interest without derision and judgment.

The past few months had been difficult with everyone questioning her and her motives. The friends who had always poured her one more glass for the road had practically disappeared. The reason she had bought a book for the escape was because she became severely depressed whenever she looked at her phone and saw zero text notifications. And she had deleted social media because the comments section was an unmoderated cesspool.

Harmony felt tears spring to her eyes and for the third time, she felt herself blush bright red in front of a total stranger.

Danny deftly reached in his back pocket and produced a tissue. His face portrayed utter misery.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry. I can’t believe my attempts at flirting with a gorgeous woman ended with her crying. I really should go and let you be.” He made to stand up, but Harmony grabbed his wrist.

“No, no. It’s fine. Please stay. I’m ruining a nice conversation because I’m emotional.”

Danny sat back down and looked at Harmony with kind eyes.

“Honestly, Harmony. It seems like you have something you need to get off of your chest?”

Harmony tensed again.

“You can tell me. We’re strangers in a train station.” His smile quirked up in a way that made Harmony believe she could tell him her every secret.

He wasn’t wrong. Harmony had spent hours hiding away, and now she was going to escape forever. It would be nice to tell someone. She knew she shouldn’t feel so disarmed, but she was far enough away from home, and would be even further in a few hours.

“Listen, if it makes you feel any better. I’ll tell you something about myself. I lost my brother recently. It was one of the hardest moments of my life. But, I feel like as much as I grieve, it has also given me purpose. So, that’s why I’m here. In this train station. To give purpose to his death.”

In any other situation, Harmony would’ve been turned off by an overshare of this magnitude.

But, this was the first time in ages she felt like someone would listen to her, no matter what she confessed. The station was eerily empty, so even if she told him her secrets, no one else would hear her. It was that feeling of being the only two people in the world that allowed her to relax and let go of what she’d been holding onto for months.

Harmony looked at Danny and braced herself, looking into his cerulean eyes, feeling like she had finally found an anchor in a tumultuous sea. The voice inside her head cautioned her, but she was tired of being adrift. All because of one mistake and all because she never spoke up for herself. She never said “no” when she didn’t want to do something. And what had that gotten her?

Here she was, her entire life packed into one bag, which she would empty out wherever she escaped to. Just so she could hide.

And then she just let the words tumble out, as Danny placed each hand gently on her wrists. Harmony told him everything. About how her best friends had invited her out to the bar after a stressful day at work. Her boss had berated her in front of the entire company, and when she got back to her cubicle after the meeting, there was a calendar invite with her manager and HR for the next day at 9 A.M. She had driven to work, so it was easier for her to drive to meet her friends.

And she had been so sad. And angry. And embarrassed. And Shelby and Coral had just kept ordering her more and more drinks. And then she was driving home. And it was dark. She had closed her eyes just for a second, and next thing she knew, she heard the thump and then another thump. Then she stepped on the brakes, the screech of it all making her head spin. The shape in the road. She had stumbled to it, only to discover it was not a deer or a dog. No, it had been a person. His wallet had flown out of his pocket and stood open on the blacktop.

Rodrigo Fuentes.

So, of course she couldn’t drive anywhere, because her car was ruined. She woke up every morning thinking the cops would be at her door, but they never showed up. Even if the HR meeting on her calendar was scheduled so her boss could fire her, Harmony was scared to report to work the next day, in fear the cops would be waiting for her the minute she stepped foot inside. So, she didn’t report to the office and wasn’t surprised to find her email and Slack access cut off by 9:02. She received her final paycheck a few days later. The paltry severance is what she used to pay for the train ticket.

Although she didn’t tell her friends about what had happened, while under the influence of the drinks they had brought her, she apparently had said some pretty mean and hateful things, and in response, they had aired their grievances across Facebook and Instagram. They had alluded to the fact she had been drunk when she left the bar in the comments of the pictures from that night, and Harmony had felt the tightening grip of the consequences of her actions.

She looked back up at Danny, having lowered her eyes to her lap as she confessed her darkest secret to a total stranger.

Danny’s soft eyes had turned steel cold blue. Suddenly, the light grasp he had on her wrists turned into a tight grip. Harmony gasped when she felt the pressure and quickly looked around, only to see that no one else was near them.

His smile had hardened into a grimace.

“Well, Harmony. It’s only fair you should know my full name. Ms. Meadows, my name is Danilo Fuentes. I believe you knew my brother.”

Eric Mochnacz

A wizard of pop culture. A prince of snark. A delightful addition to any dinner party.

learn more
Share this story
About The Prompt
A sweet, sweet collective of writers, artists, podcasters, and other creatives. Sound like fun?
Learn more