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Jaeden's Monologue

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My reflection is staring back at me across the subway. My eyes look empty, blank. A few seats away, someone is coughing; yet I can’t break my own gaze. So many strangers with vacant eyes. I am a stranger unto myself. Who am I? The floor has begun to vibrate, the lights faintly flickering as the subway car shutters to a stop. The muted “ding” that I know so well, and the doors are opening but I’m frozen. It’s as though I’m experiencing a mild form of paralysis. People are flooding out and then in, bundled up for these brutal Manhattan winters, paying no attention to the scrawny boy, unmoving in his seat.

I need a cigarette. I need to go.

You coward. Move.

I reach my hand into the pocket of my jacket, fishing for my box of hand-rolled cigarettes and walk off as the doors are beginning to close.

Up the escalator and out into the cool air, I fumble with my lighter and wait to see the red glow on my cigarette.

Drag and exhale. The familiar burn of unfiltered tobacco fills my lungs.





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