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The morning was like a damp, grey washcloth caressing my skin as I bustled through the frosty streets of New York, so I bought an extra coffee at the magazine stand just to keep my fingers warm. This was one of the rare times that I was going to ride the subway with a destination. Lately I had taken to writing, and the subway was a perfect inspiration station. I would usually ride through a few stops just to observe the zoo of people surrounding me, and make up fabulous stories about the subjects I found most interesting.
Now, I watched anxiously as a small boy picked and pried at the soot covered gum glob on the floor under his seat. “Disgusting..” I thought, as I visualized the thousands of microscopic germs taking refuge under the protection of his fingernails. His mother was busy clicking away on her iPhone, and didn’t even notice as the towheaded boy finally pried the gum from it’s former home, like a barnacle being yanked from a mossy rock, and plopped it into his curious mouth.

I had to tear my eyes from this strangely alluring scene, and reminded myself that today, I was not here to people watch. I was not here to fabricate fictional lives for the sea of strangers around me, but rather to save the life of one stranger in particular. Without me, and without the trip I was taking at this very instant, she would be dead. The importance embodied by my mere existence made my heart swell inside of me, and I almost knew what it felt like to be a saint.

My heart-warming self reflection was harshly interrupted when a boy plopped carelessly down in the seat next to me as if he he owned it. His entire body permeated a rank odor of stale weed, and the stunted hairs of his half-assed mustache looked as if they had been reluctant to emerge from hibernation. He was so repulsive himself, that I didn’t even attempt to hide my poignant coffee breath as he leaned uncomfortably close to ask me a question.

“ Hey man, so uh, do you know where the next stop is for this route? I’ve been on this thing for like, two hours man, and they still haven’t called my spot. Maybe this thing’s like, broken or somethin’. I should probably go check with the..” His useless babble trailed off as his attention was stolen by an enormous metal “CLANK” at the far end of the subway. The surrounding passengers glanced at each other momentarily, expressions of minor fret flitting across their faces. Another “CLANK” then a “SCREECH” followed by a “SCRAPE, SMASH, BAM” and suddenly everything was airborne. My body was thrown like a rag doll across the aisle, and the last thing I remember was the woman’s iPhone soaring into the window across from me, sprinkling glistening glass shards into the air like fireworks. Then, it went black.
Slowly, like the fading effect on a picture slideshow, I slipped back into consciousness and regained vision of my surroundings. Metal and glass debris littered the ground like wrapping paper after Christmas morning. Trunks and purses were strewn across the subway, clothes and personal items tossed capriciously about like a crime scene after a robbery. I could hear shrieks coming from the surviving passengers, but they sounded muted and distant, and a faint smell of smoke filled my nostrils as something burned in the back of the compartment.

The horrifying scene panning out in my surroundings had captured and over- stimulated my senses, and until now, had drowned out my own body’s screeching cry for help. My hand reflexively shot to my lower stomach, and I was amazed at the intensity of the pain shooting through my body, that hadn’t seemed to be present just moments before. The adrenaline from the crash had worn off, and I realized that the impact of my fall must have ruptured something inside of me. Something. The word bounced around in my brain, ricocheting off of the corners of my thoughts. Yes, something inside of me was damaged. But that something could be anything..right? Paranoia enveloped my thoughts as I imagined the hospital calling her, bringing news that the kidney she had been waiting for was no longer available. The donor had ruptured hers in a tragic subway crash, and it would be far too risky to wait any longer to carry out the procedure. They would tell her gingerly, yet in a straight forward manner, that she was indeed going to die.

The irony of the thought nearly made me smirk, despite the humorless severity of the situation. What are the chances that my kidney would rupture in a crash, on a subway that I was riding to the hospital to give up my organ to a patient in need?

My roundabout worries were interrupted as I was brought back to reality by a stabbing throb in my gut. I winced and let out a soft moan, but my injury seemed petty compared to the disaster around me. As I sat crouched in the fetal position attempting to stifle the pain, I wondered if the Gods were playing some twisted prank on me. After all of the strangers I had incorporated into my outlandish stories, who would have thought that I would be the one to actually live the nightmare.





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