On Board #57

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August 31, 7:42 p.m.
Q Train – 34th Street to 7th Avenue

A man or woman – it’s unclear exactly which – has colonized an L of orange and gold seats. S/he’s in an orange hoodie and peppermint-striped shorts, and the legs are pretty much all that’s visible on this body.

S/he’s in the elbow of the L, facing the taller end, and bent at the waist at nearly 90 degrees. His/er head rests on a black cloth bag inside a pink plastic tub sitting on the next seat. Her face is twisted uncomfortably to the left, away from the others in the car and facing out the window, though almost certainly not looking.

S/he owns a silver stroller with a flat rear right tire. The seat is long gone and instead a tan wicker basket holds two 18×12 cardboard boxes that read “Malta Goya: Malt Beverage.” She has njne plastic bags of varying sizes occupying the seats around her and hanging from the poles of her stroller, which she uses to ferry empty bottles rather than a child. There are aqua green grocery bags and black five gallon bags. All have holes, and most are tied together with twist ties. Two of the large bags hold plastic bottles and another has clothes. She convulses lightly every now and then, in fits of crying or something far worse.

His/er head rises – it is a “her,” or a “he” wearing two-inch gold hoop earrings. She’s got a forest green bandanna tied around her forehead. She wipes her face. Most in the train see the woman and move on. Others furtively glance at her, and then furtively glance at you in what they know to be knowing agreement: “What do you think happened to her?”

She sits up as the train hits DeKalb. I can see her out of the corner of my right eye, revealing, but I can’t look. I don’t look. I try not to look.


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