Of Solitude and Interaction

By
A viscous and heated ocean lay before me. I dove into the sea.

People swam around me in masses. Sieving, shifting, trying to find their way amidst the chaos. It was always like this in the afternoon. After a day at work, or at school, or wherever, everyone just wanted to be somewhere else.

Navigating through the mob was horrid. I fumbled with the change in my pockets, quickly exchanging it for a ticket. Which I almost dropped. Cursing at myself, I hurried onto the train, trying to find a seat as far away from everybody else as possible. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen. I scowled and sat between an old woman wearing too much perfume and a man with a tattered jacket that smelled of cigarettes. Moments before the doors closed and the train lurched off, a man in a cheap business suit ran on and stood at the handle directly in front of me. Contemplating how I managed to acquire such fortune, I dug into my jean’s left pocket and withdrew my MP3 player.

It bluntly stated, “Low Battery; Powering Down.”

I stared at the screen for what seemed like an entire minute, but was probably closer to ten seconds. Are you kidding me? I charged you last night. Exasperated, I returned it from whence it came and attempted to withdraw into myself as much as I could without it. The large amount of noise made that practically impossible. I can’t focus on the inner unless I can eliminate the outer. And without my music, I could tell that wasn’t going to happen.

From within my other pocket, my cell phone vibrated, momentarily startling me. I quickly extracted it and read the message.


how was work?



—Michael

I smiled inwardly and typed a short response.


Fine, I guess. How are you?

A few seconds later, my phone vibrated again.


good. you?


Also good. Just tired.


are you coming over tonight?


Err… Sorry, I can’t. I have a lot of schoolwork to do.


oh. alright. i’ll call you later k?


Okay.

I sighed and returned my phone to its prior location.

My personal muses exhausted, I took to staring blankly at the floor in front of my feet. It wasn’t long before I could feel my eyes glazing over with disinterest. Suddenly, the train car seemed much quieter. I looked up and realized that this was because we had reached a stop. Several passengers had already departed, and the doors closed as the train began moving again. Apparently, the aforementioned location had been a popular destination that day, because the only person left near me was cigarette man. Opting to gain distance from him, I began edging myself in the opposite direction.

“Hey.” I turned my head to the right and met his gaze . Did he just talk to me?

“… Can I help you?” I inquired with feigned politeness.

“Do you mind if I smoke right now?”

Incredulously, I stared at him, mouth slightly agape. “It’s against the rules to smoke in the train cars. It says right there on that sign.” After a moment, I indicated with my hand which one I was talking about. It hung neatly on the wall between the far door, that we were closest to, and the middle door.

He seemed unfazed. “We’re the only ones left on this end. So do you mind?”

Annoyed, I wanted to say “yes,” but I decided to avoid possible confrontation. “Sure, whatever.”

Swiftly, he produced a small box from somewhere within his clothing and tapped a cylinder out. A lighter appeared as well, and after a failed attempt at ignition, the sparking mechanism turned and a flame jumped out. He held the end of the cigarette into it, then put the cigarette to his mouth and inhaled deeply. Apparently he had caught me observing the process, because he turned again and said, “Want one?”

“No. Thanks.” I guess he hadn’t the presence of mind derive that my gaze was one of distaste and not interest.

Turning away, I attempted to find something else to occupy my mind. I fell into reading the other signs on the wall, even though I already knew either what they said or that they were irrelevant. Several minutes passed in this manner until the train began to slow again. Another stop. My stop. Gathering myself, I rose and exited the car. This station wasn’t nearly as busy as the one I had boarded on. It never was. I paced across it to the staircase and ascended to ground level.

The air outside was cold with winter and twilight. Hoping to get home before full darkness, I quickened my pace.

Five blocks later, I had reached my apartment complex. I clicked the entryway door’s handle and shoved. Walking up to the elevator, I pressed the nearby button inscribed with an upwards-pointing arrow, waited for the doors to open, and boarded. Once inside, I pressed a similar button labeled with a three. The shutters receded again and I stepped into the hallway.

Third door down. I pulled my key out of my a third, back pocket and stuck it in the hole, turning. Inside, the tumbler dropped, and I turned the knob. Locking the door behind me, I reveled for a mere instant. Home at last.

I made my way into my bedroom, then proceeded to dig out the charger for my MP3 player and plug it in. I inserted the plug for my headphones, as well, and lifted them to my ears. Music began streaming out as I lay onto my bed. Harmony resounded inside me. No more rogue noise. No more interference.

Peace at last.





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