On Board #24

July 22, 10:04 a.m.
B train – 7th Avenue to 42nd Street

A young girl, probably 6, is bored. She holds the bar next to her seat in two places, her hands six inches apart. She looks up often at the people standing in the car, before returning her head to rest on her right hand, which she’s curled around the handle bar. Her father, a large man in an orange t-shirt, jeans shorts, and generic sneakers, leans over and says something. She laughs. Next to him is a woman who might be related, also Hispanic, about the same age as the man.

“Are we almost there?” the girl asks. She has begun attempting to climb the pole.

They are visiting from Florida. His father is in the hospital, has been there or a while, but does not know his son is here, in New York. The man and his daughter are going to a museum – the Met? Natural History? – and then will surprise his father at the hospital. The woman appears to be a relative, but not a wife. She spends most of the ride reading from what looks like my Intro to Theology book from high school, and was unaware that the father was sick.

Everyone around them is silent. An older Chinese couple, a large man with his iPod plugged in and his eyes closed, and a 65-year old white man whose look of nothingness suggests he’s worked all his life and is unsure what to do now. Down the car a black man in a dark grey suit holds his face with his right hand posed like a brace flying buttress. The cathedral, his head, seems to be staring at nothing in particular, thinking hard about something very serious. Across from him, an Indian man, tall and hulking, has passed out on his laptop bag.

The man is telling his daughter about the train. About why it might be stuck at the moment (a car ahead), about why we can’t see the streets (we’re underground), and about whether we’re there yet (we’re halfway). They have tickets to Yankee Stadium, expensive ones, for tonight’s game. They’ll go after the museum and the hospital. Grandpa won’t be able to come.

The woman gets off the train at West 4th, saying goodbye to both of them. Finally the girl gets her unspoken wish, moving to the seat by the window that the woman had occupied. She cups her hands like she’s staring through a toy store window, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever is outside – inside the tunnel.

Send your stories to meanderingstalk@gmail.com.

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