Subway Train

March 20, 2011
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I’ve been riding the subway since I was little. When I was first taken home from the hospital the day after I was born I was using the subway. Heck, when I was still an egg that hadn’t been fertilized in my mother’s stomach, I was riding in the subway with her. I liked the subway, how it moved so quickly that it sounded like an air plane about to take off from the run way. I loved how everything was dark except for the flickering cheap light bulbs that descended from the sealing. I loved how it felt like I was part of the ministry of magic in harry potter every time I sent my pay card through the slot and it would magically end up on the other end in less then a second with a new stamp of how much money was left on that thin paper card. And most of all, I loved that the even with the shaking ground, the flicking lights, and the underground air; I could still make a small connection with all of the people in my little section of the subway that would be willing to make even a small glance of eye contact. I’d try to guess their story; try to guess who they really were and where they were going outside of the subway.

I have on a black leotard with white tights and ballet point shoes with ribbon that ties around my calves. My mother drops me at the subway before she zooms in her soccer-mom-minivan to pick up my older brother from soccer. With my little sister in hand, we walk towards the long escalator that meets the porch of the subway. Her blond curls that match mind bounce on her lower back, as she skips along the cement; the soft sol of the ballet beginner shoe not providing much support for her tiny feet.

“Look!” she says loudly giggling. She does a cart wheel all smiles and cheeks.

“Eww Sarah the floor is disgusting!” I grimace. She wipes her palms onto her tights and takes my hand in hers. I hum to myself as I step onto the platform with her and wait for the train to come. The screen says its two minuets away. I hike up my Nike shorts and tug my sweat shirt that covers my ballet clothes; it’s got to be at least fifty degrees outside. The soft navy and grey nit scarf is knotted around my neck and balanced on my boney shoulders and broad back.

“Look its coming!” Sarah shrieks. She yells this everyday, and she pulls on my hand as she hops up and down like a happy puppy when his owner first walks through the door after a day at work.
We step onto the moving platform just before it zooms off. We both move to the center of the cart. Five stops, I think. First stop, an old man with white hair comes in and starts to eat a mint he had taken out of his pocket. A lady follows, she has tall red heals and a black dress that looks like she’s heading to a meeting but is holding, what I guess to be, her children’s hands. Both of the kids have bright red hair and fare skin that matches their mothers. Many people follow but they come and leave in bulk so quickly that I don’t have time to make out their faces. Stop two, a man with a broad stance around his twenties walks in, he has on a black leather coat and a well put together long jaw line that fits with his bright blue eyes. I recognize him. The next person to walk on is a big African American lady, she’s about four feet and 200 pounds, and she has on prayer clothes like she’s going, or has just come from, a church. Stop three, a child with a skate board walks in. He has a dark tan, cut off shorts and is probably around the same age as me. The bus roars when it starts to move again but we only make it probably a block, before it stops moving. The man comes onto the overhead speakers, “We are experiencing some technical difficulties folks, but we should be moving shortly.” I hear people on the bus moan. It only takes half an hour for the people to realize that ‘shortly’ meant just the opposite. The power goes out a couple hours after the bus stopped along with the warm air. Sarah tells me to call Mom and tell her we’re stuck on the train, but I remind her that I don’t bring my phone to ballet. She says she knew that and she was just testing to see if I remembered. It started off cold and I stayed huddle next to Sarah until a man, probably ten years older then me, lent me his black leather jacket. It was the same man that I recognized with bright blue eyes and a handsome face with the defined jaw line. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and says that it wasn't a problem and it'd start warming up soon anyway. When he steps away I ask him for his name, he smiles and says, “Steven.”
When he’s out of ear shot Sarah pokes me in the side. “Someone has a crush!” She exclaims. I tell her I don’t, and it’s not a lie… just not the completely true. I’ve seen Steven before. He always gets on this subway.

“There is a lady over there that’s letting kids use her phone as light. Do you want to come over there with me?” Sarah asks lightly. It’s been at least an hour since Steven lent me his jacket and it has become extremely hot.

“No, thanks, but I’m going to stay over here. Go if you want to though, just be polite.”

“Okay, I can here that some of the kids over there are in our ballet class that I know. So I’ll probably be there for a while, if you want me just yell my name.” She pats my shoulder like Mom used to do to me when I was younger, and makes her way to the other children.
I lean against the window and close my eyes. I wonder how long the bus will be until it starts to move again. I wonder if it’s on the news. I wonder if Mom knows where we are. I wonder if my ballet teacher is still going to make Mom pay for the class even though I have a reasonably excuse this time. I wonder if anyone else is as warm in this bus as me. I wonder if Steven is warm. I wonder if he is single. I wonder if he would mind company.
I don’t know why but I can feel my legs lift myself up, as if without my command and make my way into the walk way. Steven is on his phone and I can tell it’s him the moment I see the light glowing off of his face. I walk to him and hand him his jacket he had lent me. “Thank you,” I say and smile even though he probably can’t see it. I don’t think he notices when I sit next to him and lean against the same medal pole. At least he doesn’t say anything right away.
“You can go to sleep if you want. It’ll probably be a while.” I here Steven say so lightly that I don’t even know if he was talking to me in until he pats my leg. And I don’t really know why, but I listen to him and let my head fall onto his shoulder.
When I wake up I can feel him tugging at the top of my shorts; it's already gotten so hot that I needed to pull off my sweat shirt in the middle of my nap, half way unconscious. Sarah is still at the other end of our segment of the subway talking with some of the other little kids and their mothers. My arm touching Steven’s and the warmth spreading from him to me and from me to him, I drop my head onto his shoulder covered with his thin black undershirt that is damp with his sweat. And I can tell he knows that I’m awake. His thumb is tucked under my shorts and the rest of his hand is resting on my upper thigh. His hand is beating to the beat of a song stuck in his head. I hear him sigh with the wave of the heat.
"How long do you think we are going to be stuck in here?" I ask softly, brushing away the hair that's stuck to my forehead. I still can't see anything, the power is out and the subway is dark like tar. I sit up and run my fingers along his back; I can feel the tight knots from stress hidden under his shoulder blades.

“I have no idea.” He says and sighs again. “That feels good.” I’m tugging at the knots along his upper back with my thumbs, moving them back and forth, back and forth. I couldn’t be sure but I think I can make out his eyes slowly flutter close, and his lips part. “Actually that feels really good.” He tilts more so his back is facing me, and drops his head. We sit like that for a couple of moments and every so often he’d reach his hands back and hold my knees before going back to slouching into comfort. “Can you see me?” He asks.

“Not well.”

“Do you remember what I look like?”

“Yup, I saw you when you got into the train, and I remembered your face after you lent me your jacket.”

“So you know that I am… a lot older then you?”

“How old are you?” I ask.

“Twenty, what about you?” I stop massaging him and wrap my arms into an embrace around his waist instead.

“Sixteen,” I whisper, feeling guilty about my age.

“And you don’t care about the age difference?” I can’t tell but I think he raises his eye brows.
“Not really, I mean, it’s only four years.” I think. “Do you remember what I look like?”

“Perfectly,” he says and I hear his shirt slide off of his back. His hand wraps around my wrist and positions it on his chest. It’s warm and strong. “I’m sorry,” He says embarrassed and drops my arm. “That was out of line. This is out of line.” His voice is caked with disappointment, and it comes out sounding like a mumble.

“You aren’t out of line,” I lift my hand and stroke his cheek. He turns his head, and I drop my hand from his face. He doesn’t want me to touch him. He takes his undershirt from his lap and starts to put it back on. “Don’t,” I whisper. And I hear his shirt drop again. I can just make him out with the lights coming from peoples cell phones, but not well enough to see his features, or for anyone else to see what we are doing.

“I see you everyday when I get onto the subway.” Steven says. “Not in a stocker kind of way, but in a lovely kind of way.”

“I see you too… Like there is a connection even though we’ve never met.”

“Exactly,” His hand I wrapped around my lower waist. And my hand is back on his bare chest.

“Your skin is really warm.” I breathe into his ear. He chuckles.

“Thank you.” We talk for a long time, chatting about things that we would know about each other if we were good friends: favorite color, TV shows, sports, family, friends. Another hour or two passes. I feel him tugging at my shorts again and I take them off. His hand is balanced on my hip.

The lights turn on, and the sound of the subway running roars. All of the heads turn and look at us, Steven’s shirt isn’t on, and neither are my shorts. Sarah’s eyes are like saucers.

“It isn’t what you think.” I say part in shock and part still stuck in anger. I step away from Steven, and he from me.

“It isn’t,” He agrees. The subway starts to move again. I sit in the chair I was in a few rows back, and hang my head in shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Sarah comes to sit by me, but says nothing. At the first stop Steven walks out of the train with his shirt on, and jacket under his arm. And on the next stop, finally stop number five, we climb out and walk to the ballet studio that’s probably closed already. I know I’ll see Steven again tomorrow, and even after this moment, I know that eventually we are going to join as friends. And I’m going to walk back onto the subway train that I love so much. I loved that even with the shaking ground, the flicking lights, and the underground air; I could still make a small connection with all of the people in my little section of the subway that would be willing to make even a small glance of eye contact. I loved that I can still make a connection with Steven.





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ghostwolf said...
Mar. 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm
I love this! the descriptiveness and the twist is great! 
 
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