The Walk Home from Dance This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   It is November 1, 2001. The world isa mess. The U.S. is bombing Afghanistan, and bin Laden's terrorist network, AlQueda, is threatening us with its signature unpredictable terror. I am scared totake in the mail each day, and, being naive, whenever I smell something unusualin the air I wonder if it's anthrax.

My dad is in Ireland. He flew overlast Sunday. His mom, my nana, is dying. My mom is on her way home from NewHampshire. She works in New Haven, and travels every-so-often to the office inNew Hampshire. She left early this morning, before I woke up for school, andshe'll be back late tonight. My brother is eight hours away at the University ofVirginia. I haven't seen him since August. I am here, home, 14 years old and inthe center of everything, keeping it all together, it seems.

My day isnormal. I get home from school, change for dance, and walk downtown toward thestudio. The walk there is always quick. My class today is only an hour, and endsat 4:45. Daylight-saving time happened this weekend, and so the afternoons aredarker.

As the dance class draws to a close, I gaze warily out the windowat the darkness that awaits me like an unwanted shadow. I take my time lacing upmy sneakers and pulling on my sweatshirt, stalling before I have to face the darkafternoon. This afternoon the darkness is a foreboding presence, a bad omen. Itsurrounds me and sucks me in, into the world my own is quickly becoming, one offear and anxiety - of reality.

When, at five o'clock, I pass theEpiscopal church on Broad Street, the bells begin to ring, chiming an eerie andbeautiful hymn that taunts my ears. How beautiful it all suddenly is. The nightis gently approaching and the air is soft; the leaves crunch under my shoes, andbells chime a harmony of familiar notes. This is how the world is supposed to be.Beautiful.

I wish I had someone to share it with. At this moment, I amtotally alone. My family is as faraway from me, and from each other, as we get.The cars that pass know nothing of me, nor care. It is just me. Just me, and thesidewalk, and the church bells, and the leaves, and the night air. How could itbe that I am the only one at this moment, cherishing this beauty? How can therebe such hatred between people, and such violence and terror going on in theworld, when all that really matters is this - church bells, the leaves, the nightair? It's all so

simple.

I walk on, toward my street. As I nearthe railroad bridge, I can feel the train coming, the five o'clock from New York.I feel it in my bones when a train is coming. I've lived near the train tracksall my life. First, the whole world tenses, like a classroom full of studentsright before a teacher scrapes her nails across the chalkboard. Then the metalrails begin to chirp with high-pitched squeaks. You can't hear the train until asplit second before you see it, and then there it is, roaring past you, lumberingdown the track it takes every day, every night. I walk under the railroad bridgeafter it passes, and the rails chirp after it. I can smell that potent smell ofthe City - the stifling aroma of the platforms at Grand Central. This is what Iknow. This is my lifeline - what is imprinted in me. No matter what happens in mylife, no matter who bombs whom, no matter what, I will always feel when a trainis coming. I will always recognize the smell of Grand Central.

The sky isreally dark now as I walk up the hill toward my house. My pace is slow. I reachthe top, and the feeling of home fills me. It makes me warm. But tonight homeisn't really home. I turn into the driveway and realize this, with a sinkingheart. No lights are on, no human has warmed the inside of my house. I amalone.

What has happened to my world? Will it ever be the way it used tobe? Where has everyone gone? What are they thinking? Can't they see that all thatmatters is this walk home? All that matters is the subtle beauty that lingersaround us every day, the images and knowledge instilled in us since birth, andcoming home to the people we love?

All that matters are the church bellsand the leaves, the train, and the warmth of a house.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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