Calm In the Mist of Chaos

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Photo taken at 233rd St, The Bronx, NYC

Standing at the platform edge in a tunnel, a man with a blue knitted hat leans over the edge to check if a train is coming. Only darkness is seen, he steps back and shifts his weight to his left leg. He looks around and sees the long faces of his fellow train riders, waiting, as they type away on their mobile phones, one woman looking at her face from the front camera. He shifts his weight to the other leg, something pinches him in his pocket. As he reaches in, he frowns questioningly at a half bent paper clip. The screeching of iron on the tracks grabs his attention as a train pulls into the station. The people and the man gather by the train door, they make a small opening for people coming out.

The train car is filled with all types of people, lucky for the man he’s entered a train that has no air conditioning. A small baby crying in the distance from discomfort, laughing teenagers discussing Pokemon cards, a woman with a disgusted look on her face — most likely from the heat. Holding on to a tiny portion of the handrail, an asian woman with a large backpack rocks back and fourth hitting his chest. The man’s frustration slowly escalates as there is no where for him to move to, no air to breathe. He notices the tension in his right ankle as he stands awkwardly to keep his balance— the train swaying this way and that way. The smell of armpits in the air, he tries hard not to breathe too deeply. Swirling the paper clip in his other hand he hears angry chatter of how hot it is in the train, as if it’ll make it any cooler he thinks to himself. He closes his eyes.

He feels the thinness of the paper clip, following the curves with his thumb, the muscles in his shoulders release as they drop a little. Slowly his feet position themselves in a way that he’s able to keep perfect balance— slowly moving the paper clip between his pointer and middle finger. He begins to see a light pouring out of his chest like a small waterfall, bouncing off the ground, the light flows, filling up throughout the train car. The light streams out of the windows, like fire blowing in the wind. A puncture of light comes out of his back, flooding the train car more. The white light, seeping through the connecting doors, finds its way, filling up each of the ten train cars. He can see the entire train as it appears to be blaring down the tracks, spraying white light at each station. Ripples of light radiating from his body, each person drenched in brilliant white light. He feels tingles in his toes as his fingers on the handrail loosen.

The man opens his eyes. Only four people are in the train car, lips hanging from their face, fast asleep. He realises he missed his stop. He looks down to see the paper clip on the floor, no longer bent but in its perfect form. He sits down, picks up the paper clip and rides the train until the end of the line, allowing his day to end when it feels like it.