Light rail chronicles 11/27

Never sit on the platform seats heading home – they’re covered in smokers and dried marmalade and body odor. People love to dance waiting for the train: Old hispanic women, gay black men, white boys all plugged in to a rhythm and never afraid to show it.
I opened the last two pages of my book, leaned against a steel bar like those Marlboro cowboys raising one boot up, head down; watched a pair of naked brown legs in heels crop between my pages and the tracks. She walked past, then back again. Her chocolate hair ripped curls down her shoulders; hot pants, small black shirt, red jacket – every part of her was cut into thin angles of skin. Her tiny stem stopped abruptly, quickly shaking her slender wrists as if to rid a dull pain. “Does this bus stop at McDowell?” She asked in an unexpectedly butter-male voice. Only then did I notice the adam’s apple; the shadow creeping through skin she must have to hide with a razor every morning. The train clock burned 7:03pm. She seemed nervous like her pumpkin was minutes from midnight.
“Do you mean the light rail?” I looked into her unreflecting, skittish eyes. They revealed nothing.
“Yeah, the light rail,” she corrected, glancing anxiously up and down the tracks. “Does it stop at McDowell?”
“Yeah, you’re going the right direction,” I said and she walked off quickly down the platform, changed her mind and came back to wait.

Where was she going? Not home. Her question proved that. She seemed in-between something, on her way, but to where? A lover? Freedom? Was she ending a relationship? Or starting? Was she running? I know what it’s like to be a female at night in a city, a key ready between your fingers like a shank. Hyper-aware of who is behind and in front of you. But I have no idea what it was like to be her. The train arrived suddenly and she ducked into an opposing car. All she carried was her ticket.

A few months ago, two black men attacked a gay man walking down the sidewalk. They interviewed the victim on the news, his face beat up and horrified. He was in the hospital for 3 days. The attack was completely unprovoked.
How can these things still happen? And by black men who’s families had to, at one point in history, fight for their civil rights in the very same way?

All the way home, I kept thinking of the girl. What was she like with no one around, taking off her clothes, make-up, padded bra, women’s underwear? and being left with appendages she doesn’t own? Down to bare bones would the magic of feeling herself in daylight leave her? Did she dream in color?

Before I left the train, the gay, dancing boy from the platform, took off his headphones leaving his own happy rhythm and tapped a menacing-looking man stretched across 5 seats. It was still “rush hour,” people stood around him unsure if they woke him, what kind of person he would turn into. There are a lot of drunks and addicts who ride these trains and most of us who do know that striking conversations with such people could end badly. But this boy, this flamingly gay boy wearing white skinny jeans, cocked his head, pursed his lips and said “There are otha people around you. Be considerate,” he flitted his hand, spell-like, “Just saying'” and walked off like he’d been fighting assholes his entire life and what was one more. He was already over it.

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4 Responses to Light rail chronicles 11/27

  1. Ms. Moon says:

    Okay. This is writin’, GIRL! This is beautiful. This is color and emotion and culture and heart.
    I love it.

    • rachvb says:

      wow, Ms. Moon! Took me all damn day with the whole working-job-people-talking-every-5-minutes thing in the way. Thank you. There are some people in the world we need to remember. xoxo

  2. LtoTheJ says:

    This made me cry … IDK why … I think maybe because I could see the ENTIRE thing in my head so clearly. Every single person and the station and you, sitting back and watching … EXQUISITLY written, my dearest.

    • rachvb says:

      Thanks, love. Maybe someday you’ll be lucky enough to ride the light rail with me. It’s full of adventure. =) Love you.

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