I’ve been thinking for a while now. I spend most of my nights in bed, thinking, staring at the grey ceiling, wondering what I’m doing with my life. I reach over to the side of my bed looking for warmth and find only emptiness. I clench my hand. There hasn’t been anyone there for a while now. I try to relax and fall asleep. The watch on my desk ticks and ticks. With each tick, I toss and turn in discomfort. It drives into my core. Tick. I turn onto my shoulder. Tick. On my back. Tick. I place a pillow by my head. Tick. I throw the pillow at my desk. Tick. I get out of bed. Tick. I grab the watch. Tick. I smash it on the ground.
I groggily blink my eyes and fight through the pain of waking up. It’s cloudy outside, which makes my body think it’s too early. But I’m already running late. I grab my clothes and hastily throw them on. I don’t bother with hair or makeup. It’s winter and I’ll hide everything with a hat and scarf. A swig of orange juice from the fridge and I’m out the door and on my way to work.
The city is bustling at eight o’clock. The world rushes to the streets at the same time, purse in hand, overpriced coffee in the other. I refuse to subject myself to the repugnant smell of coffee and the horrific rush-hour traffic. I simply walk to the corner subway stop. The only downside of the train is the homeless people lingering in the corners, ready to ambush your conscience by asking for money. I pawn away a few one-dollar bills to save myself from the guilt of rejection. The train arrives a few minutes late, and the neurotic businessman tapping his foot beside me can finally let loose a sigh of relief.
The train is crowded, but I don’t mind anymore. I remember the first time I rode the subway in the city. I was on it for an hour, coming from the airport, standing, crammed between the constantly switching passengers. It was a sweltering summer day and I hadn’t slept at all on my flight. There was a point where all of the passengers blurred, where my feet felt like they were swept from under me. I don’t remember passing out, just waking lying on a platform with paramedics around me. It took me half a year to start taking the subway again.
The subways have gotten much smoother since my childhood. I remember swerving right and left through the car as my mom clung desperately to me, trying to avoid sending me flying into other passengers. But now I can’t feel the tracks under us. We glide from start to stop without ever feeling the difference. I take a seat as some of them free up. I lean my head against the glass and try to rest amidst the business chatter. I feel myself drifting off. I should stay awake so I don’t miss my stop. I should… stay… awake…
A huge jolt runs through my head as the window knocks it and the train car shifts so violently I’m thrown from my seat. It’s not just a shift. It begins to tilt to the side. There’s no more business chatter. Only screaming.