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August 21, 6:21 p.m
7 Train – Times Square to Flushing
One woman – that is to say, at least one – has her hands full. She’s got two children, a boy and girl, he’s 6, she’s 8, both wear jeans shorts, hers a bit shorter (mom wears a full length pair). Both are reading books, their mother’s saving grace. His is written in Chinese and appears to be a biblical story. Hers is in English, with characters named Jessica and Emma.
The boy stops reading, using his torso as a bookmark for the oversized hardback he now has wrapped around his stomach. He’s upset about something, and wears a look suggesting he wants ice cream or a Popsicle, badly. He looks up at Mom and spouts a few phrases, not in English. Mom is standing with her daughter leaning against her. She wraps her right arm around her daughter’s chest and reads along, looking up only as she waits for her daughter to catch up and flip to the next one.
“Go Phillies,” one group of men – perhaps on a weekend away from the wives – yells to another group of their brethren. They receive an identical response.
A group of docile looking Mets fans, their team 14.5 games back, says nothing.
A seat empties and the girl sits down. The boy promptly stands up as his sister sits next to him. He stumbles as the train moves, grabbing onto Mom. She motions to the seat, and so does the elderly man in the next seat over, smiling and encouraging the boy to sit. He sits on Mom’s lap, joyfully forgetting his book and masks his eyes with his hands, then rings his arms around his mothers neck like an orangutan.
“It’s not that bad going out,” the yelling Phillies fan says. “But when you’re going back it’s all the homeless and guys selling watches. You just gotta put your head down and walk.”
Storm clouds approach outside. A Mets fan remarks about how he never has an umbrella when he needs one. The jerseyed riders depart at Shea Stadium, the boy and girl and their mother stay behind, onward to Flushing.