There was something about her sweet face, squeezed between the hood of her bright blue winter coat, covered with snowflakes and a big eyed, platinum blonde Elsa from Frozen conjuring some winter war on her chest. The little one seem unphased by the stomach-churning aroma of decay and toxic secretions that had wafted from the streets of the city onto the train car. Mid-winter, the aroma dwelled any indoor heated area, as every living thing fled to the few available sanctuaries from the biting, relentless cold. I twisted my face in defiance of the sensory overload, contorting my nose so that only the minimal amount of oxygen could pop into my lungs; enough to keep me alive for my commute home, but sparing me from overindulging in the stench of overcrowded train car. Panting like a dog, I lamaz-breathed in my corner, while sucking in my “winter pudge”, (which had stuck around for the past two winters…and summers) as the next army of commuters crammed themselves, unrealistically into me.
But her face was angelic. So relaxed. So innocent. Absorbing everything, thrilled by something as mundane as the piercing recorded “ding” of the train doors closing. She was silent… unusual for such a little one. Unusual for rush hour. Unusual for this wildly unpleasant commute. Upright in the stroller. Thinking. Wheels turning. Absorbing. Judging?
Her mother was practically collapsed into the wall in physical defeat as she sat down for possibly the first time that day. Her head leaned into the once-reflective pole, now covered in slime New York. Still catching her breath, she stuffed old headphones into her ears immediately, mechanically…completely surrendering to the vibrations snare drums and rhyming couplets about superficial worries that seemed miniscule in comparison. The chord near the auxiliary connector was completely stripped; just exposed wires. I saw that she sought refuge here often. She looked young, and disinterested. We all got to enjoy her music that destroyed her eardrums with unforgiving volume levels.
She didn’t hear it the first time… I don’t know if anyone did.
More than usual this train was clouded with an exhausted and angry haze that seemed to pour in endlessly with every stop, leaking through the sliding doors:
They open. Another frustrated sigh. They shut. An annoyed glance flares violently across the car. They open again hurried footsteps exit, running down the weak, feeble and slow. They close, shoulders force their way through the sea of mediocrity and dissatisfaction. Another Wednesday. Halfway there, but it’s hard to see the glass half full instead of focusing on the fact that some asshole drank half your glass. All you had left.
But I heard her… A soft exclamation at first. Her eyes were completely fixated on… what? She was entranced.
….To Be Continued….