|Mind The Gap
Author: Arsideus PM
As I'm waiting for the subway train to take me to work, I notice things the mind gap usually doesn't let you see...Rated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy - Words: 1,883 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 03-27-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3008429
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It was with some trepidation that I descended down the blackened steps that led to the underground, glancing behind me every second step, trying to savour the pristine air, the way the morning sun shimmered so peacefully in the sky above, before a wall of stale, recycled air blasted me full in the face. I trudged to the turn style gates and inserted ticket, waiting impatiently while the machine whirred and clanked and finally spat out my ticket again. I followed the thin yellow lines of adrenaline to the main platform, never going past them, but always close enough to taste the electric ecstasy of that lay just beyond them, just beneath my feet.
I guess I've grown numb to the flashing metal and the rotting wood and the wind that blows your hair every which way, the sticky car floors and the cool sweaty metal, the flickering lights, the tunnels, the bumps that mess up your handwriting. I guess I just accept the anonymity that the subway brings, the way we sit in small plastic seats beside strangers and turn our faces to stone, eyes wide shut, staring into nothing. No one sees anyone else as if every person rode alone on an empty subway train, a thousand little worlds folding into the one real dimension, without anyone noticing.
Perhaps we are afraid of what we might see.
But it isn't what I see inside the trains that frightens me; it's everything I see just before the tormented screeching clattering announces the train's arrival. I see you wearing the same clothes you seem to wear every morning we travel together for work-your exquisitely expensive suit with that obnoxiously couloured tie and those cufflinks that gleam so much that they make the amount of gel in your slicked back hair seem pathetically inadequate. It's not even the way your clothes signal out that you're too good for the rest of us; it's not even the way your thin bloodless lips wrinkle ever so slightly when someone else, one of them, so much as brushes up against you, and you swat them away with your briefcase. It's not even the fact that I judge you based on what you're wearing; I happen to be wearing almost the exact same clothing, save for the gel in my hair, and the fact that I have to constantly restrain my skirt from flying over my head every time a train passes by.
No, it's not really any of those things. It's the fact that, we might look like we belong together, but it's the way each of us behaves that determines the mind gap. Yes, the mind gap, the chasms that separate everyone from everyone else: your values, your morals, your beliefs, whether or not you remembered to kiss them goodbye this morning before you left for work-that sort of thing. And nowhere is the mind gap more apparent than in these subterranean surroundings. I wonder if you see all I see every morning before we get on the train to take us to our varied destinations that somehow all lead to the same conclusion. I wonder if you still think it matters, or if it doesn't matter for you as soon as the doors shut and the three note melody goes off and the train begins to move.
I wonder if the mind gap lets you see the way you attempt to stand out from the masses, but you are soon swallowed up by your fellow comrades that always confuse me, because I think I see you here, when in fact you're really some other place altogether-or over there-or you haven't moved at all. Does the mind gap let you see all the people that have, like me, put their souls on autopilot for the next hour, and stuffed their hands in their pockets, blatantly refusing to remove them, claiming the chill of the station would ruin their manicures when it's really just the fact that they want to hold on to what little crinkled multi couloured paper and various sized thin metal circles they have in their pockets. Because here in this subway, people like me-especially people like you-live and die by the stares we get from all the people aimlessly floating around, drifting to this group of people or another.
I doubt the mind gap has allowed you to see the face like beaten, dried leather that occasionally sears you with its gaze, or the person that bears that face and wears that tattered, filthy clothing that has marked him. This morning, it is an older face, and a masculine face, so different from the youth and drained feminine innocence of the one I noticed yesterday. This face occasionally has a voice; a voice like someone had thrown gravel into rolling thunder. Somehow, it's still not heard over the buzz of the other more important conversations, but everyone assumes its intentions. I shift my gaze down to what I think is a small discarded sweater and a pair of small sweat pants and the tin cup beside the person. I stuff my hands even deeper into my pockets, embarrassed.
You are oblivious to the way they all hiss at you, to the blazing inferno in their eyes as you shoulder past them, for now we have all gathered into a group, all attempt at order dismantled before it began as that familiar electric screech reached us. I've gone one step better than putting my soul on autopilot this morning-I've out it up for rent, in hopes that the contents of my pockets will grow before the day is done. You really didn't have a soul to begin with, for as long as I've known you, so I don' think the following applies to you.
The train somehow slowed its breakneck pace after a few tense seconds and I bowed my head, steeling myself for the influx of people to come. I noticed the words underneath my feet, as I so often do, but they don't register the same way as they will in a few minutes.
Mind The Gap.
You get on, some way ahead of me, and I begin to slowly move forward, noticing the diversity of society around me: the nameless faces, the nobodies, the one's that think they matter but they don't really, not until someone cares enough to ask. Then the one's that are dressed better than them, but still worse than the one's at the top because you know a person really well after just seconds of staring at what essentially covers their nude vulnerability. I think I chuckled as I pondered if this scenario would change if we were all naked, but a rough shove from one of your comrades sends me crashing into someone else, and so on and so on until various rough hands shove me out of line.
So there's me, standing there, out of step with the rest of world, wheeling around to return to the very back of the line and try, with a flickering hope, to get on to this train and not wait for the next one, which would make me unacceptably late for work.
And then I see him, with his little tin container in hand, stand up and with uncharacteristic elegance brush his clothes off to rid them of filth.
I forget about being late for work because this man doesn't give a damn about being late for work, and I forget about living and dying by the stares of my peers because this man has no peers and thus doesn't give a damn about that either. He does seem to give a damn about the contents of his container, and a few small, circular pieces of metal drop into the calloused palm of his free hand. His eyes shine brightly for a moment with something like rage, and there is finality to it that that makes me shudder.
We are the same in this regard.
It's only when he hurtles the container away that the people in line lazily flick their gazes towards his general direction and then return to their more pressing problems-the train has began to fill rather quickly, and there is a sudden hiss, as if the train is impatient to move once more, but must wait for the right moment.
The line presses forward.
I am oblivious to everything except the small child that has suddenly materialized from out of the shadows where the man was sitting, wearing a sweater and a pair of sweat pants. I look on as the man reaches into his pockets and empties out the pitiful contents into the palm of the same hand with the other circular pieces of metal. I look on as he hands them over to the child, one by one, until the child is holding all of the pieces and looking up at the man, confused. I shuffle a little closer to hear what the man says to the child, but all I can read are his lips. I shrug and move away, walking some length down the platform before I stop, at about the center, hesitant, between worlds. I watch the child nod as the train fills almost to bursting, and again, it hisses. I flinch, although I don't know whether it's because of the train or because the man stood up so suddenly and roughly steered the child away to another corridor, out of sight of the platform.
I can still see the child's silhouette in my peripheral vision as the man slowly walks in my direction. I stiffen, thinking he's going to say something to me, and then feel the back of my neck prickle, imagining the child's eyes boring into me from the shadows.
The man looks right into my eyes, and the mind gap closes.
By now, everyone has gotten on the train and I hear the muffled chime of the three note melody. I look over, and see that it's slowly begun to gather momentum. I instinctively back up a safe distance away from the yellow line, away from the words ominously painted on the platform, and it's this safe distance that makes everything impossible for me, and everything possible for him. How could I understand what drove him when everything I'd ever wanted was there for me to seize? When I had the ability to seize it? I think it's a joke, and reflect that this would be a hell of a reason to be late for work, when the roar of the train suddenly becomes louder. I look at the man in sudden panicked understanding as he walks past the yellow line, right up to the edge. He gives me that same look of finality he had only minutes before, and with the wailing din of the now-speeding train ringing in his ears painfully, and in mine, he steps off the platform.
I couldn't hear what he said, but I could read his lips:
Mind The Gap.