I held tight to my Mastercard Paypass debit card as I approached the green light
indicating a twenty-four hour service area. This was my first ride on the subway and to say I was nervous was to say that clouds bump into one another during a front. It was a bright, sunny day. The people around me bustled by, taking the A Train while I waited for the G. My mother had assured me I’d be fine. It was an ordinary, everyday thing. I didn’t quite believe her. If anyone would want me to fall under some creep’s radar, it would be my stepdad. And Lord knows, he ran the household with an iron fist.
He’d patted my head like a dog as I left the house. “You’ll be fine, Georgia. New York City is a safe place. No reason to worry at all.”
Right. No reason to worry at all. Hello. Terrorists and rapists and who knew what else lived for these kind of places. Dim, dark, noisy, a herd of rats to boot. I glanced nervously about imagining the rodents about to overpower me and drag me off to their nest but they proved to be too busy with the piles of litter scattered upon the platform. I glanced down the tracks.
Come on. Come on.
I’d been in NYC almost a month. The sheer size and volume of people blew me away every time. I came from farmers in the northeastern part of Ohio. The terrors of the city had long been discussed by my family and friends. Especially when my mom up and married my stepfather Tobias. I didn’t know if most of what they said was meant to scare me or make me want to hide in the nearest haystack. But I knew I didn’t belong here.
Sixteen years of the simple life had taught me to be grateful for what I had. Well, I had been and wanted it back. A crowd battered me as I stood there, careening my head for signs of my train. How did a person deal with this on a regular basis? Did they just ignore what happened before their eyes or become too shell-shocked to notice? Oh, there existed spots of beauty inside the city, I knew that. But a lot of its innards and outer flesh branded it with an ugliness hard to erase.
It seemed a place out of a scary novel, just brimming with violence.
Yet the people were hardy and brave.
I didn’t know if I could be like that. Or even if I dared try.
A hand brushed mine and an apology came from a dark-haired youth maybe a year or two older than me. He stopped to look down at me and I sucked in my breath at his blue-eyed, tan, impossibly cute existence. I stammered an, “It’s okay.”
He smiled down at me. “A bit stuffy in here, isn’t it?”
“Can I buy you a sandwich and something to drink,” he indicated a stand near us, “to make up for my clumsiness?”
“Oh, that’s not necessary.”
“I insist. If a guy can’t bother to offer a sincere apology to a girl, he’s not worth his stock,” he said.
He led me over to the vendor. After we got our meal, and turned to walk back to where we could watch for the trains, he asked, “Where you going?”
“The Crosstown Local.”
He laughed. “No way, me too. Want to ride together?”
I tried to not be too elated. “Sure.”
A cute boy talking to me and wanting to spend more time with me?
Maybe the Subway wasn’t such a bad place after all.
©Copyright 2010, Nov. 28, tlc.