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Last Stop MAG
Two pairs of eyes, one set blue, the other a deep green, look down at a teenage girl. The green eyes are filled with water and anxiety.
"And you'll promise not to walk through that awful park? And all those bums, don't get too close to them, dear, you know, germs ..." The mother's voice trailed off due to the gentle poke of the father.
Martha began to get impatient. "Yes, Mom, don't worry. I've got everything under control. I'll only be staying in New York for a few days and you know Rachel's parents. I don't want to miss the train. Gotta go, I'll call you later. Bye" With a sigh of relief and a strange feeling of independence, Martha slammed the car door shut and headed for the station.
Once aboard, Martha found a seat next to the window and began to flip through the pages of Vogue. The train quickly filled up and she found herself squashed next to a loud Italian woman with an enormous bosom who was trying desperately to quell the unruly hair of her son. The small boy began to cry for a cookie. Martha could not fall asleep.
After the fourth time she had read "How Much You Can Tell By How He Looks At You" and taken all the beauty quizzes, the train finally reached its last stop,New York City. Martha gathered up her luggage, stuck her tongue out at the little boy, and hurried off the train to find her best friend, Rachel.
Outside, the cool November air whipped at the girls' feet and turned their cheeks a bright pink. Martha snuggled deeper into her turtleneck and looked enviously at her friend. Rachel had always been a strange dresser, but two years ago, when her family had moved to New York, her tastes began to evolve and she substituted black jeans and leather for L.L. Bean sweaters and argyle socks. Martha continued to go to the private school which they had both grown up attending, but her suburban life had started to bore her.
"So, are the guys still short and nerdy?"
"No, they've gotten taller and some of them are pretty good looking now." Martha, feeling defensive, turned her head away and concentrated on the millions of little lines in the cement.
"Hey, I was just asking. You know, the guys here aren't all that terrific either."
That night, after dinner and showers, the girls began to get ready. Rachel rummaged through her closet looking for something appropriate.
"But don't you have to be eighteen?"
"Don't worry about it."
"But isn't it illegal?"
"Martha, don't be so much like your mother. Don't worry, I've got everything under control."
The two girls emerged from the yellow taxi, both wearing skimpy black dresses and brightly colored lipstick. They headed for the cave-like building announcing in neon that they had reached The Limelight. Smiling at the bouncer, Rachel tugged her friend into the dimly lit club.
"How did you do that?" asked Martha in amazement.
"Nothing to it. You've just got to show a little cleavage."
Martha's jaw dropped. She didn't have any cleavage.
As Martha's eyes became accustomed to the dark, she began to make out shapes. The dance floor was vibrating and scantily clad figures gyrated to the rhythm of loud rock music. Rachel had already started shaking her body and Martha watched as a blond introduced himself to her. It didn't seem so hard.
Four hours and many songs later, Martha realized that it was no longer still the night. Her feet were aching, and her mouth was sore from so much smiling. Looking around she could not spot Rachel anywhere. Fear began to creep into Martha's mind. What if she had left? Or that blond could have kidnapped her, or ... Don't be so much like your mother, Martha reminded herself.
"There you are. I've been looking all over for you," shouted a familiar voice in her ear. "Let's go."
Back at the apartment, a tired Martha wiped off the lipstick and changed into her comforting flannel nightgown.
The train home was half empty and Martha stretched out on the red and orange seats and fell asleep.
Two hours later Martha used the window as a mirror, preparing herself. When she was sure that all signs of make-up had been removed and her shirt was properly tucked in, she emerged into the bright sunlight toward the waiting car.
"Did you get enough sleep? Did you remember not to sit down on the subway? I hope you thanked Rachel's parents for letting you stay there."
Martha responded to their questions. As she spoke, the lies were already forming in her mind.n