The Subway
By: Pie

Four pairs of wandering eyes search over a skyscraping landscape for a glimmer of green. These such eyes, belonging to my mother, my friends Mike and Shannon, and myself, were looking for a pole with two green balls on top. This pole signified a subway station, and the green balls meaning that the station sold tokens.

"There!" Shannon gleefully exclaimed, pointing at the pole. We grinned, and hurried towards it, our legs aching from walking around NYC all day. Fifteen minutes had been spent in our quest, our eyes finding naught but red, meaning the station did not sell tokens. You could only board the subway from these such places if you had tokens with you, as permanent residents often did, or if you owned a card that you could swipe, instead of using tokens. My mother had neither tokens, nor a card, for the cards had just recently come out. We entered the hole that gapingly loomed at us from underneath our feet.

A sweet tinkling of music entered our ears. Straining to hear, I identified it as "Jingle Bells" being played on a saxophone. Shannon and I merrily sang along, and Mike laughed at us as we made up words we didn't know. My mom beckoned us over to the token station, and we sang "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" as she payed for them. I sidled up next to her, and peered up at the face of the lanky man serving my mom. His face was etched with fatigue, and looked fairly cantankerous, so I decided that he probably wasn't in the mood to be interrogated, especially the day before Christmas. So, I merely smiled, wished him a happy holiday, and hurried to catch up with my posse.

Upon catching up with them, I slipped my coin into the slot and made my way through the revolving door. My mom pointed out the train we needed, and we hustled down the stairs, still gayly singing. We covered our noses as a foul odor of urine caught up with us. Mike snerked and Shannon looked appalled when I told them what some of the homeless people did when they came into the subway station for shelter at night. Mike reminisced over a book he read in class last year called Slake's Limbo where a kid lives in the subway. Upon further thought, he admitted that it really was a horrible book. Shannon readily agreed, but I remained neutral, for I have had the good fortune (in my friends opinion) to have never laid eyes upon the aforementioned book. I asked what happened in the book, but both refused to comment, deciding that it was far to wretched to darken this joyful day. I laughed, and we continued down the corridor.

We got to correct platform to board the subway, but we were forced to wait as, alas, it was not there yet. I leaned over the edge, hoping I would not fall, and looked down the dark and forbidding tunnel. It looked quite eerie. Shannon, standing behind me, shrieked as she saw a three foot long rat cross the tracks. Mike guffawed, but then he saw it and swore it had red eyes. I personally thought it was the lights. We bunched up on a bench, and opened up some of the things we bought on the streets of the Big Apple.

As I opened my satchel of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans (an idea Jelly Belly got from the popular children's books Harry Potter, a favorite of all of ours), we exclaimed with delight as we saw the funny flavors. I honestly thought when I bought them that all of the flavors were usual Jelly Belly flavors, but upon gazing into the bag, I was proven wrong. The mini pamphlet inside divulged that the flavors were highly unusual indeed, ranging from pumpkin pie to sardine and booger. Mike hesitantly tried a pepper, and while his eyes were watering, Shannon popped in a lemon drop. I stuck with my usual apple, but winced when I discovered that it was grass. Ick. My mom laughed at me, and took a fruit punch. To my deep disappointment, it was indeed a fruit punch. Oh well. I picked out a horseradish bean, and bit into it. Suddenly, I could feel my throat close up! I gasped for air, when, just as suddenly, it opened up again! It was definitely one of my most queer experiences. My mom bellowed over a sudden rushing roar emitted from the tunnel that the subway was coming. We gathered a safe distance from the threatening edge along with a few other people. A whoosh of silver and blue streaked by, and finally came to a halt. We tumbled in one of the entrances and steaded ourselves before it zoomed off again.

Holding onto the same pole as Shannon, we shared a weird look as rap music began blaring from somewhere. I craned my neck and saw two guys begin to dance. The crowd parted slightly, and we saw an amazing performance. The men were flipping and spinning so fast that it made my eyes spin. A third man joined in, while one of the original dancers sat out to change the track of the boom box to a lively Jamaican reggae. The music guy told us to clear the isle, so we obediently shuffled to the sides of the compartment. One of the men grabbed the other guy's feet, while he went between his legs and grabbed his shoulders. They did a somersault, sprang out of it, did a cartwheel, and bowed. I clapped with the rest of the people, and put in a couple of dollars with Mike into a grubby red backpack the man was holding out, and he heartily said "Bless you children." They bowed once more, and as the locomotive came to a stop, moved to the next compartment.

As the people cleared out, more seats became available. Shannon and I sat down on the hard, bright orange plastic benches. Giggling, I told her it was much better to sit next to her than Mike, who, on the last time we came to NYC, bit off the end of his vanilla ice cream cone and got it all over everything. Including me, I might point out. I asked her if she had been on a subway before, and she replied, "Yes, I have, actually. When I came up here to see a play with my mom a few years back, we took a subway. It was nowhere near this lively, though, and we didn't have any performers." She winked at me, and we began to sing our melodies of festive holiday cheer once more. Many of the people joined in with ease, and we had a wonderful ensemble of voices.

At the next stop, where most of the people got off, the singing quieted. Looking around, I realized we had the compartment to ourselves, apart from the goth teenager with the headphones, black makeup, dog collar and gum, the old woman with a walker wearing a flowered dress, and several business men in sharp suits looking at their watches every few seconds, all at the back of the compartment. Mom sat down in a single seat, while Mike stretched out across an entire bench in the front. Shannon and I shared a bench, her laying to the left, me laying to the right, and our heads in the middle. We looked at the ceiling and laughed at the old, peeling posters. Several were old people claiming to have great psychic powers, others were retailers, and one unusually bright green one was against tobacco. It looked like something you might find in a health classroom. She pulled out her cell phone (borrowed from her mom) and joked about calling one of the psychic hotlines. My mom snaps a picture of unsuspecting Mike, who automatically holds up a maroon gloved hand to block his face. She snaps another one when he puts it down, and we all laugh.

The subway slowly came to a stop, and we gathered our things and bumbled out, clumsy from just lying down. Behind us, we hear the blue blur disappearing into the darkness with whooshes. We trudge up the stairs with bleak walls, covering our noses once more. Up through the revolving door, past the token station, and into warm sunshine. A refreshing breeze blows past and energizes us. We take off almost running to explore more wonders of Manhattan.