I rode the subway today with no destination in mind. With me were three people I did not know that had met up randomly during our individual attempts to complete the same physics lab.
I watched the doors open urgently as if to vomit out the passengers. The crowd. And the loneliness.
My three companions headed toward the same unknown as I, searching for honesty–for a clarification to a question that none of us can formulate. Perhaps finding the answer will reveal which question we did not know.
The doors open again. The car empties out. My one companion sleeps next to me. Another stands, looking anywhere but into the eyes of another person. The other sits across from us, out of place amidst the unexpected comfort emanating from three people who met just an hour before.
The blond wears the same socks as a figure beneath a blanket. The figure has no feet. We would not have noticed the figure hidden under the baby blue cloth–which seemed to blend into invisibility with the unforgiving orange seat labeled ‘priority seating’–if it had not been for the matching argyle socks.
The blond was a stranger to me an hour ago. Now we discuss another’s socks as though the stranger were something that could never be more than a stranger. What would he discuss with another if he had not known me and seen me sitting in this car?
I spot an albino pretending not to look at me. His red eyes flicker between my face and the map on the wall to the right of me.
I wonder where he is going. And where he came from that he is going there.
The fetid smell of urine rapes my nose, and the albino is erased from my life. I ponder. If I look to see where it is coming from, does it make a difference? I review the people in my mind. An Asian woman with short hair carrying a Macy’s bag sits a few seats down, not leaning her back against the chair as if it were decorated with needles of heroin. A large young woman wearing flip flops and revealing clothing casually clutches the bar above her head, and snaps her lips at her acne-riddled friend–assuming that the entire car is interested in what she is saying.
An old man, a thin black man, an albino, the covered figure, my three companions, and a well dressed man under 30 wearing Versace sunglasses are connected for one stop. We are all headed in the same direction. For one stop. Should it matter who urinated on the way? I decide against looking for its origin, and instead focus only on avoiding introducing it to the sole of my worn, black sneakers.
I am aware now that I am staring at the man in the sunglasses, and I cannot tell if he is looking back at me. What exactly was I looking at? Did it relate to my thoughts? For how long have I been doing this, and, if he did notice, what was he thinking? Was he completely uncomfortable as I absentmindedly gaped, oblivious within my own thoughts which were too subconscious to even remember?
Has someone else been staring at me, as I was just a few moments prior?
The doors should be opening soon. It’s been so long since they’ve opened.
My companion suddenly snores and wakes himself up, and I am filled with an overwhelming happiness which becomes audible in the form of a laugh, and for just a few moments I am free from the tensions of my thoughts. I can laugh with abandon with my three former strangers, and be just another form of the young girl in revealing clothing with too much to say. Who will now be the onlooker with a notebook open to a blank page who looks at us with contempt at our obnoxious laughs, violently thinking ‘what makes them think we care if that’s funny?’
The doors open.