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A Simple White Coffee Cup
… I’m on the train again. The train is stopping. An empty cup rolls quickly down the aisle. Now my car is almost empty. I see the top of a man’s head a few rows away from me. He looks about forty-fiftyish. I always wanted to know what was inside those “Door control panels” – what would it be like to pull the fire alarm… on the train? There’s almost no security. The conductors walk back and forth but nobody checks your bags or anything. I feel so alone. Only an older man’s head, and a muffled laugh for company. The seats are dark purple and an ugly blue – I don’t like them that much. They couldn’t have made them brighter? ‘Evacuation Instructions’ – for when there’s an emergency. My mind’s racing. It is now getting dark outside. My parents will wonder where I am. It gets dark so early now. There is the most beautiful sunset today. The whole sky is pink and purple. I always see those glamorous sunsets on the ocean or the beach. I see the rolling cup again …
She is on the train again. Jane White. The eighteen year old girl who seems to have an unknown destination. Her beautiful long dark brown hair is tied up and her coat is buttoned to the top. Jane’s hat is slightly tilted covering her forehead.
… Only a few more stops. The train’s rocking back and forth as it crosses a bridge. I almost drop my coffee. The river under the bridge I’m crossing is usually beautiful, but today it is covered with ice. It’s snowing outside. Everything is blanketed by snow. The trees, the ground, the houses, and even the small yachts tied to the docks. I’ve always wanted a small yacht, maybe one that said my name on it: Miss Jane Leslie White. One that I could just take out whenever I want and go sailing wherever I want. I remember a while ago I was daydreaming with my friend about our futures. We decided we were going to buy a small boat. A black yacht with a white stripe wrapped around it – or was it a white boat with a black stripe, I don’t quite remember...
She stands and reaches flawlessly for her purse which she had placed on the shelf above her head. The man sitting in front of her helps her and asks her name. She nods a thank you and doesn’t reply. Jane White is not interested. She holds her purse loosely, but with great care, takes out her ipod, and delicately puts her earphones in her ears. She stares out the window. It is now pitch black. I wonder what she is thinking at this moment. She looks deep in thought.
… Where do I see myself in 5 years? 10 years? 20, 30, 40 years? When will I meet my husband? Where will I get married? Where will I be working? What will I be doing with my life? … Will I have any children? Where will they go to school, to college? Sometimes I hope they don’t end up like me. Over-analyzing everything. One time I checked my reflection in a spoon at the dinner table – just to make sure my lipstick didn’t smudge. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Then I popped a baby carrot into my mouth…
She pauses. And I see her stand. And then she sits back down. I can almost hear her music coming from her silver earphones but she is too far away. It is almost my stop, but I don’t want to exit the train. I don’t want her - Miss White -to see me carrying my grimy unkempt football bag caked with dirt (It would be rather embarrassing since I would appear like a dirty, messy, sweaty scoundrel). Not that she would notice me anyways.
…Almost there. A few more stops. The door opens again. I sit waiting for a random person to sit next to me. Sometimes the people are a little sketchy and weird, but I can’t move because that would be rude. Well sitting next to me is a privilege. But still, maybe if I just spread out my arms and legs and…too late. It’s too late, I look over. The man sitting next to me is huge. He must be at least over six and a half feet. I can’t stop staring, I’m dumbfounded. He must be a basketball player. Has to be. One time I tried to play basketball at summer camp. I ended up hitting one person in the face and sending another person to the infirmary. I’m too good for that sport. But I was so awful that I haven’t even picked up a basketball since then. The doors close. The train starts with a jolt. My old friend, the empty cup rolls back into view and seems to quickly hide itself away again...
I wonder why Jane watches that cup roll under a seat. She must have something better to do. I see her turn, rather slowly. She makes conversation with the NBA star sitting next to her. She starts to jingle her stacked bangles. The conductor reiterates his announcement over the system. Jane asks the star for his name, and he replies simply… Ryan. I turn away to check my watch. It is almost ten past. I turn back to see Jane handing her ipod to her neighbor.
…Great, now I can’t listen to my ipod anymore. Maybe Ryan and I will keep in touch, he seems… nice. What should I do now? My bag, maybe I’ll find something to do in my bag. My phone, I’m not in the mood to make conversation. My crossword puzzle book, no. Catcher and the Rye, well I’m required to read it for school so I might as well…
The train is tranquil and hushed. Jane pulls out her book and starts to read. The conductor makes his announcement. The trees look like a blur through the windows. Jane straightens her posture and reads on.
…”...sometimes people tell me to act my age. Sometimes I act a lot older than I am - I really do – but people never notice it. People never notice anything...” For some reason this quotation caught me by surprise. I hear clicking coming from the train’s ticket collector. And the frequent buzz of the few people left on the train. This short passage, I can relate to it. I feel as though I do act my age. Very often actually. I just look older than I am, and act younger than I look…
Jane removes her hat. Almost as though she is suddenly conscious about the way she lookes. Jane is so beautiful. She lets her silky hair fall down past her broad shoulders, and digs for a barrette in her bag. A cell phone rings. She finally pulles a barrette from her bag, twistes and ties her hair up into a rather stunning hair-twist, or at least I think that is what they call it.
…I’m curious, how does my hair look? Are there any stray hairs? I’m usually not this insecure, but maybe should I put my hat back on my head. I absolutely love the way the ladies dressed a while back. They walked with such perfect posture, acted like ladies – like debutants. Maybe the way the French or Austrian dressed, with such poise. Like Marie Antoinette. Closets with dresses you can lose yourself in. Huge beds with marvelous gold frames, the walls engraved with gold flowers and fountains. Mirrors and candles on the night tables. Necklaces, hats, umbrellas and gloves lined neatly on the vanities. Curtains framing the windows and blankets made with gorgeous fabrics – maybe silk – spewed over the large beds. Spectacular views from the windows, of the water or fountains. Horse drawn carriages with handsome young men. Oh, how I would love to live in that time!...
She’s daydreaming. Looking out the window. I wonder what she could possibly be thinking of. She quickly glances around the train, and briefly looks in my direction (or so it seems). She smiles the smallest of all smiles and then checks her watch, and starts to gather her things.
…I don’t think it’s fair that I have to stand on my very tiptoe to reach my bags. Wouldn’t it be nice if a gentleman came over and helped me for a change? My stop’s next. I can’t wait to get off. My journey’s coming to an end. I watch the trees out the window for the last time. Its looks like millions of shades of green were painted across the sky with a paintbrush. It is lovely. The train slowly is coming to a stop…
The man next to her (Ryan, is it?) kicks a cup down the aisle. Jane politely asks Ryan to return her ipod. He hands it to her, she smiles a thanks. Jane stands up, waves a goodbye and walks swiftly to the train doors.
Jane White tilts her head towards the floor, rather disapprovingly. She slowly bends down, stretches out a delicate hand, and carefully picks up a simple white coffee cup. The train doors open and Jane exits. She strides over to the nearest trash can and effortlessly tosses the empty cup away.