Wednesday, December 20, 2006

West 4th

On December 31st, a minuet physical motion will align a big hand with a little one, pointing them directly toward magnetic north and marking the start of a new year. While waiting on the subway platform on my way home from work yesterday, I stood next to a man who, for the moment it took to compel his body forward with a mercenary scream, could find no reason for making it that far.

The man threw himself in front of the F train as it arrived at the station, locking eyes with the conductor in his the final moments before being swallowed by Newton's first law. He left behind a small, white plastic bag that sat, a silent witness, at the edge of the platform nearby. It was the kind given out at corner delis, and I imagined sandwich leftovers and extra napkins inside, but I couldn't look.

No one paid attention to the bag; it was lost in the crowd of people who gathered and called to the space under the second car where the man was lying, silent and unseen. I stood dumb, mute, my rational mind battling my disbelief; How could someone do that? Why? I left the station to call 911, realizing as I did so that the conductor probably already had. I called a friend instead.

Someone just jumped in front of the train. The paramedics haven't arrived yet. No. I don't know. No, I left; I didn't know what else to do.

I got back on the train this morning and headed for work. Women pulled compacts from their bags and checked to see that the makeup they'd thrown on in a dash from their doors had not been applied overzealously; men paced back and forth, reading their New York Times. All was ordinary. The sound of friction, though- the screech between the iron and the train as it came to a halt- seemed different, sharper, more metallic. I had to stop and cover my ears.

No comments:

About Me

My photo
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Blog Archive


Search This Blog