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The Five O' Clock Train
I had to break into a jog to make the 4:50 meeting time for the 5:00 subway train. 96 Street Broadway station, 5:00 pm. It was now 4:58. Jordan’s voice had sounded so calm on my voicemail, stable and… happy. I didn’t want to screw that up, not after everything it had taken her to get so strong.
I couldn’t fathom how she could deal with everything that had happened to her earlier that year. Jordan, always the sunshine of our lives, had begun to develop bad habits nearly three years ago. The root of all of her problems was her body image. She was nearly six feet tall and always hoped to be a model. But she couldn’t deal with the fact that she was much thicker than the girls she saw in the magazines. Her obsession with her weight started with skipping meals and over exercise, and her beautiful face was soon destroyed by her addiction to alcohol. Six months ago, she was driving home from the bar, drunk, after her boyfriend had dumped her for a girl “more his type”. On the way home, she ran over what she thought was a deer. Upon stumbling out of the car, she realized it was an eight-year-old girl, thrown off her bike and crushed upon impact. Jordan couldn’t handle the guilt and stayed cooped up in her apartment, alone, for weeks on end, only leaving the house for a run to the liquor store. She lost her friends, her job, and even us, her family. Finally, we realized we need to intervene to get the old Jordan back, the one that didn’t drink, the one who loved her life. With a family intervention, we convinced her to go to therapy. It was a slow, agonizing process, but Jordan was almost back to herself again, and we saw her quit drinking totally, a sign that possibly her self-image began to improve.
I took the steps down to the subway three at a time and ran in. I exhaled when I saw her standing far away, near the edge of the tracks. The train hadn’t come yet, though I hadn’t really expected to since it would have been quite early. As I approached her, she looked anxious. Jordan looked so dressed up you would have thought I was her date. She had on her favorite gray jeweled shirt, the one she thought made her look so much skinnier, and the jeans I’d gotten her for Christmas (after she ogled the pair long enough at DKNY). Her hair was slicked back in a ponytail, her face perfectly made up. Our grandmother’s favorite vintage 1920’s hat was clutched in her hand, and to top it all off, she was wearing a pair of ratty running sneakers. Old, abused, dirty sneakers that she always wore when going for a jog. I thought that was really weird. It was so weird that it caused this unsettling stirring in my stomach. I ignored it as she said, almost in disbelief, “you came.” She wrapped her arms around me in a hug and I laughed.
“Of course I came, Jordan! We haven’t hung out, just you and me, for so long.”
I could feel her grip on me tighten and she whispered, “I love you, Jason.” I felt my heart skip a beat in this sudden moment of compassion. I knew, no matter what, that my sister loved me, but she had not said it in so long. I ached for all of our family to be all together again, in this little second of treasured time, just so we could all remember how much we meant to each other.
“Love you forever, little sis.” She pulled back from me and smiled, though I could see tears forming in her eyes. I was pretty sure they were good tears, though, obviously just happy to know our bond hadn’t been severed.
I could hear the subway not too far in the distance, could even feel the gentle vibrations of the pavement beneath my feet.
“Mommy, is this the train?” A little boy shouted. I don’t know why, but I watched her as she examined the schedule, cranking her head to look at the different times. “No, honey.” She shook her head, folding the schedule back into her purse. “I think this train will go right past, but ours should be coming soon.” The boy beamed, jumping up and down in excitement. I noticed my sister was watching them too, her eyebrows furrowed, seeming to hang on their every word. “Limes Square! Limes Square!” He chanted.
His mom smiled, “It’s Times Square, sweet.” The little boy’s face puckered immediately.
“Then where are we going to get the limes?”
I could see the tracks rumble this time, and prepared for a train to rush by any minute. I looked back at Jordan, who bit her lip. She looked up at me, and tapped my nose. “Close your eyes.” She said, as I immediately remembered the game.
“And you’ll be surprised.” I finished, snapping my eyes shut.
“Don’t peek.” She insisted, almost seriously.
We always used to play this when we were little. One of us would close our eyes while the other would change something about the room we were in. When our eyes would open again, we’d have to find what was different.
I snapped back to reality and was suddenly aware of someone shouting. The sound of the subway had grown much louder now as I heard a woman scream “Stop!” My eyes flew open just as I saw Jordan leap from the platform, her body in this magnificent arc as if she were taking flight. For the milliseconds she floated there, in the air, it was as if she would be suspended over the tracks forever, a dancing marionette puppet held by God, for all to see. The train caught her body mid-air, and the loud thud echoed in the tunnel, the sickening crack of her bones drowning out even the noise of the machine itself. The train’s emergency breaks sprung into action, the jolt causing her to be catapulted into the air, rolling over the roof of the train and dropping to the platform like a limp, lifeless pile. And with that sound, the dull bump of her body against the pavement, seemed to follow hours of silence.
I ran to her, in a daze, the tunnel spinning around me. I kept screaming as I ran, screaming for help, screaming for someone to help her, help my sister. I collapsed next to her and started sobbing. Her body was broken and twisted. There was blood everywhere, I squeezed my eyes shut but it was all I could see. Her hand, somehow, was still clutched to that old hat.
She was contorted, mangled, shredded… but I couldn’t look away. I couldn’t close my eyes now. I was a fool to think that she has gotten better so quickly, I was a fool who just wanted his family to be perfect. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten the rules of the game. Three years ago, when Jordan started becoming someone else, I closed my eyes. I forgot that when I opened them, she wouldn’t be the same. I treated her like she shouldn’t be different. And she remembered. She remembered the rules of the game, and today she had played it. Just like when we were kids.
Her big, innocent, empty eyes stared up at me.
I reached my hand out and gently closed them.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
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"If I'd a knowed more, I would a loved more." -Pilate Dead, Song of Solomon
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My eyes feel so heavy when the stars are calling me
- Join with us eternally -
I'm falling in deep trance and my powers are weakening
I'm falling in a world between dreams and reality
... I'm sailing away to undiscovered seas...
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"To die would be a great adventure"
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If there is a book you really want to read and it has not been written yet then you must write it. -Toni Morrison
i agree with Stiil_Waters26. Other than that, GREAT!!
Though, it is so so so sad. I could not even picture this happening to anyone I knew.
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"We few, we happy few/we band of brothers/For he to-day that sheds his blood with me/Shall be my brother"
-Shakespeare, "Henry V"