Even if he had planned this out to the letter, as he usually did, it couldn’t have turned out any better than it seemed to be: everything seemed set to fall into place. Evan took the same train to work every day: the 7:11 from Chestnut Hill into the city. Every day the same conductor, perhaps the only female conductor on the Chestnut Hill line, handled ticketing in the second car–a fact he had surmised after three months of train rides. She didn’t work the 5:52 back out to Chestnut Hill in the evening, so Evan had only half an hour each day during which to make some kind of impression. Sometimes he deliberately sat in the third car, if only to dare his heart or to prove that he was not in fact on the road to some kind of unhealthy obsession. Still, those days he had even more trouble concentrating on his Runner’s World, fearing that he might be reading about intervals or fartleks at just the moment of some random, unexpected appearance in his car. He could sometimes glimpse her through the windows at the front of the third car and at the back of the second car, and it was only when he caught himself craning his neck to see through to the next car that he realized that he might need to make some kind of definitive action. So he made a plan that would overcome the admittedly substantial stiction in his love life.

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