Fellow Travelers

standard January 21, 2008 3 responses

(Please scroll to the bottom if you’re just here for a kitty update!)

In the distance I can hear the screech of the train’s brakes. I start to run, weaving in and out of people. Can I make it? I take the escalator steps two at a time, praying that I won’t trip at the top. One last step. Leap. I’ve made it to the top. A few more feet and I’ll be on the platform. BEEP. Crud, the doors are about to shut. I accelerate even more, feeling the strain in my calves, but I get to the doors of the train just as they slam shut in my face. I jump back to avoid getting hit by the doors. Damn! Missed it. I take a step back before leaning forward and putting my hands on my knees, heaving, trying to catch my breath. I look up at the display. Five minutes to the next train. I’m going to be late for class again. If I just left a few minutes earlier in the morning I’d make this train. I have to figure out how to make that happen.

Now that I can breathe again I straighten up and look around to see who witnessed my humiliation. A tired looking mom is leaning against her overloaded stroller, her infant sleeping soundly under a mountain of blankets. She sees me looking at them and scowls before catching herself and smiling back at me. Next to her stands a stern looking business man. He’s intently reading a folded up newspaper. As I watch his face darkens; he must not like what he’s reading. Neither of them even noticed my arrival on the platform. No one cares that I made a fool of myself. Behind me a group of chattering school girls have just spilled onto the platform. They are wearing what passes for hip school wear in Paris this year, short kilts, cute button down shirts, thick down jackets. They exude self confidence and I instantly feel awkward and gauche. I pull my shoulders back and pretend they don’t make me feel like a kid.

I have nothing in common with any of these people aside from the fact that we are all here, on this platform, at the same time, waiting for the same train. We all lead radically different lives, yet for this short stretch of time our experience will be the same. We’ll feel the same accelerations and decelerations, we’ll hear the same announcements, we’ll get to the next station at the same time. And then like a bunch of particles that have come together for a short time and then explode back out again on their individual trajectories, we will go on our merry ways, never to see each other again.

After we all make our way onto the next train, I sit and look around at my fellow travelers again. Who would be the strong one in a catastrophe? If the train derails who will sit in the corner and sob while the rest of us help the injured? Who would be my love interest in the movie version of our train wreck? I ride these rails every morning on my way to school, yet I’ve never seen any of these people before. How is it that we all came to be here at this specific time? What happened to them this morning? Who’s running late like me?

I whiled away each morning commute by wondering about my train companions. My questions were only ever answered by my increasingly fanciful imagination. No drama ever made me prove myself and no love interests ever developed, and I’m sure that those people would be surprised to learn that the mousy girl that they barely noticed sitting in the corner of their morning train still remembers them years later.

This post was inspired by the Sunday Scribblings prompt Fellow Travelers. Click here for more great entries.

Kitty update:
Miraculously Janvier seems to be pulling through. The stone that created the original blockage in his bladder has passed and the other stones in his kidneys and ureters are not creating issues at this time. He is being treated by IV antibiotics for the infection the original stone caused and they should be removing the catheter tomorrow. We are being cautiously optimistic that he might be home as early as tomorrow night. Yesterday’s vet was so pessimistic that we can’t really believe that he might be OK.

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3 responses

  • Interesting questions that you have about those other strangers traveling with you. With your imagination, you could make them into some very unique characters.

  • I really enjoyed your story – Shari is right – these characters would make an interesting book. Thanks for sharing this provocative post!

  • … it would make an even better short film! You described your situation so vividly.

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