Subway Short Stories

Everyone called her Bella. Though she no longer felt the inherent rush of the beauty of youth. Her hair, still full, lacked the attention required to arrange it into the gaze attracting crown it once was. Her eyes were still lively. Darting about hungrily among the passersby.

It was winter now, and she rode the J train toward Manhattan, across the twinkling landscape of the Brooklyn street lights. Her life was now a collections of portions of time. 92 minutes to work. 240 minutes on the floor before she allowed herself a smoke break. 35 minutes to eat, and 24 minutes to walk off whatever she ordered from the local deli. Another 92 minutes home, before her 127 minutes for dinner and errands. Once the clock struck 10:00pm, it was time to reset the board and play the game again.

The 92 minutes navigating the turnstiles, tracks and seats of the MTA were her favorite. There she subtly fixed her eyes in the myriad of people traversing the urban jungle. She noticed the shoes that didn't match the dress. The tie with just the right amount of dimple. The elegance of the woman sweeping through the turnstile as if she were entering her cotillion. The fussy little man wishing that somebody, anybody, would comment on his clearly planned attempt at sartorial nonchalance.

This was her focus once. When her deft hands sorted through pages of discarded magazines, noticing trends, absorbing patterns, folds, and textures. Now she was here. Gleaning her pride from the smiles of her patients, feeding and medicating them to their heart's content. This seemed to be the more important thing. Relieving another human's discomfort was surely more honorable than just making them look good, even though she knew that her need was somewhere else. At home she dreamt of style. At home that dream still seemed ahead of her.


But this was America.