by Nikolas Kakaletris
“Why is this place always so f***ing busy?”
I muttered to myself as I stepped onto the platform. I squeeze and weave my way in between an array of people hoping to find space away from everyone else. I hear the chitter chatter of people, the buzzing and ringing of cell phones and the crying of infants. I hear the pressure being released from the train as we slowly begin to take off. I glance down to check my phone ‘No new messages huh? Shocker’ while also checking the time.
‘I should be home in an hour’. I begin to bite my lower lip and lift my head up circling everyone around me. Men and women of all backgrounds. I look up and see a woman with a baby strapped to her chest while reading a book.
Maria, a single mother of one new born child. Her husband had been fatally shot and killed overseas in Iraq. She’s taking the subway to her mother's house in Queens to drop her beautiful daughter Isabella. Maria’s taking night classes to get her education in hopes of giving Bella a better life than her own. The old stained baby shall, her wrinkly jeans, the worn out books. Maria had bags under her eyes clearly showing she hasn’t slept in days.
‘Ugh, 45 more minutes’. I hear someone's phone ring and look over.
Brittney, a 22-year-old who's got more going against her in life than for her. She tries to cover the scars on her arms, neck and legs with a turtle neck XL long sleeve t-shirt and jeans…. it's June. She keeps looking down at her shoes afraid to make eye contact with someone else. She’s on her way to see her boyfriend Carlos of 4 years. 4 years of physical, emotional and verbal abuse. 1,460 days on this train awaiting to arrive home to be met with fists. No wonder she's staring at her feet.
I feel my phone vibrate, it's just snapchat.
‘Halfway there,’ I chuckle to myself. The doors slide open behind me, I feel a hand grab upon my shoulder, “Sorry boss, can I get by quickly?” “Oh shit sorry” as I shift myself over to the side a few steps so the gentleman can get through.
John, a businessman who is up for a promotion at the firm. He has a beautiful wife and 3 healthy children. John is addicted to cocaine and Methamphetamine and has been for the past 2 years. He finds himself slowly deteriorating as he becomes more disconnected from life. Seeing his family once or twice a week maybe`. He’s chasing the high in order to mask the lows. Money can't buy happiness.
“Next stop, Fairfield” rang over the intercom.
‘Thank god’ I hear light sobbing. I look to my right.
Jacob, an 18-year-old high school student. He's holding his face into his jacket as he lets out gut-wrenching sobs and tears hoping no one hears. He has just been kicked out of his house. He’s on his way to see his boyfriend having nowhere else to go. Jacob recently came out to his family as being gay. Instead of hugs and kisses, Jacob was met with fists and screams. His father beat the shit out of him and his mother threw his stuff in the driveway and told him to “get the f*** out of this house. We don’t allow that fag stuff to go on here.”
The light illuminates the door in front of me as it slowly slides open.
I take a sigh of relief, and step off the train and onto the platform.