Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Train Ride

The screech of train wheels signaled to her ears that they were moving; a fraction of a moment later, her body felt the change. The bright light of a clear day found its way through plastic windows that had been scratched with gang symbols and cryptic messages. She kept her sunglasses on as the train passed hillsides packed with rectangular shaped houses all colors of the rainbow.
There was a young couple twenty feet ahead of her. The guy had on a new tie-dyed shirt and had shaggy brown hair. He sat next to a stylish young woman. She had pale skin and straight brown hair with bangs that reached to the tips of her eyebrows. She looked at her boyfriend occasionally, but mostly she looked out the window, down in her lap, at the seat ahead of her, at the ceiling…anywhere but at his face. When she did look at him, she did not smile. The girl in sunglasses wondered if something had just happened between them. If she had just found out he had cheated…something that would explain her disdain. His head was tilted in her direction, but her head was tilted slightly away from his, as though she just couldn’t stand being too close.
Next to the couple, across the aisle, was a young boy, two or three years old. He stood on the cushioned seat next to his large Samoan mother. The little boy was wearing gray sweatpants and wore something that looked like a backpack, only where the backpack would be, there was a small teddy bear. The device went around the boy’s shoulders and chest and fastened with a clip. There was a long cord attached to the teddy bear that the mother used as a leash for the boy. The child stood, he was just a little taller than the seats. His voice was shrill. He pointed to the hills and the houses, he pointed out the window excitedly. His little voice was so high and so excited that the girl in sunglasses could not understand what he was shouting. But she understood what he saw. He looked at the world with new eyes.
Every cloud was a shape that had not completely been solidified and understood and compartmentalized. Some clouds were dragons, but some where soozebuckels. There were spots of green houses and airplanes. But there were also hossplertas. He pointed at them all. His grandparents, in the seats behind his, smiled at him affectionately. Their bronze skin and slanted eyes glowed in their love for him.
The train screeched to a stop. The doors opened and a couple in their early thirties sat in the seats perpendicular from the girl in the sunglasses. The man was nearly bald, but he had shaved his entire head, revealing a pink scalp. He looked like an alien. He sat with his legs pressed tightly together. He clutched the backpack that rested on his lap. The woman next to him had long wavy brown hair and a floral printed cotton skirt. Neither of them looked at each other. They did not talk, but they both chewed on pieces of gum at an accelerated pace. Standing by the door was a young Latin woman who held the handles of a stroller. There was a little girl, just a little over a year, in the stroller. She had two black pig-tails on either side of her head. She looked around the train car with wide open eyes.
The doors closed and, again, the screeching sound of metal on metal signaled that they were on their way.

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