And I don’t even know their names

22 08 2010

I catch the last car through the grate. Shit.

But it’s not mine, not whisking by the platform, tho’ it’s headed, like me, deeper into Brooklyn. I puzzle over this as I swipe my card and push through the bars to stand and wait.

Hoyt: the train I missed I didn’t, a 4 moseying through on the express track, just not express.

The next 2 train will arrive in. . . 19 minutes. I look up, and the sign says, 2  12 minutes.

Huh? Oh yeah, just cycling through. No 3 train this weekend. Not that I care: the 2 is mine.

I pull out my The Beautiful Struggle and consider leaning against the ceramic pillar while I read, but decide my naked arm is too clean, and I adjust my gym bag and widen my feet instead, hips pushed forward.

Sound down the line, and I peer into the tunnel. The light’s not right: another 4 taking its time rumbling through. I go back to my book, then look up, and see a small girl with her hands cupped around her eyes, spying on Hoyt, spying on me. Her grin is shy, and then, just before she disappears, an even shyer wave.

I watch the people in the rest of the cars. A small boy bouncing in the window, laughing. Two middle-aged men, sitting tight. A woman reading. Another woman reading. A man leaning against the rails, snoozing. The middle conductor glancing at me, his face, blank.

Two more 4 trains amble by while I wait, and I let my book go slack for both of them, staring through the dim of the middle tracks and into the lighted cars. The woman fixing her hair. The young man turned sideways, toward his girl. More books read by more women. A man signing to two people whose backs I can only see. A man in a kipa half-turned, gazing ahead. A young woman in Heidi braids, dozing. The last car, always someone leaning his or her head against whatever will hold it up, dozing. The last car, the conductor’s berth always empty, until the return.

Most of these faces are black, some brown, a few Chinese (do I know they’re Chinese? I do not.). Even fewer are almost as white as me.

I’m still damp from my workout, still damp from my shower, and damp in the long quiet of the station.

The 2 rolls in, the door opens right where I stand. I step through, and head for home.