The Next Day Part 1

March 9th, 2012 by Wordsman

Day 234:

The thunder of chugging wheels, the rush of wind through the tunnel, the screech of over-used brakes.

5:19.  Time to get up.

The woman in Simon Park Station had no use for alarm clocks, with their revolutionary ideas and rebellious ways.  She got up at the same time every day, except Sundays.  At 5:19 the first train rolled in, its awful noise undampened by the sounds of human activity, for at that time—and for several hours before that—she was the only human there.  They say that people can get used to even the most horrendous racket, that soldiers in the trenches learn to sleep through artillery barrages.  The old woman could never sleep through the arrival of the first Downtown-bound Green Line train of the day.

She had a morning routine, like we all do.  When the angry noise forced her eyelids open, she would first make sure the train was not coming straight for her, as it often did in her dreams.  Then she would glance at the still-closed stands, in the hope that the mere memory of coffee might help to keep her awake.  Then she would lay her head against the cold concrete of the pillar and fall immediately back to sleep, because there was nothing to do in Simon Park Station at 5:19 in the morning.  On weekdays, the first Downtown-bound train was a sparsely attended affair.  On Saturdays it was completely pointless, deserted, a ghost train (yet another image that she did not need invading her fragile subconscious).

The real wake-up call came about forty minutes later, when the first Outbound train came in from downtown.  The 5:19 was just a train.  The woman did not care about trains.  She was only interested in passengers.  Unlike the crack-of-dawn Inbound train, the super-early Outbounds usually produced a couple.  Sure enough, here came a woman in her early 30’s wearing scrubs.

Here we go again, the old woman thought.

“Don’t you feel . . .”

With a shock nearly as strong as if that dream train had finally collided with her frontal lobe, the events of the previous day came back to her.  The new strategy.  The slap.  The handcuffs.  The boy and the Beherrschunglied.  The extremely mediocre flute.  Freedom.  And most importantly . . .

“. . . will you agree to help me?”


The old woman experienced the joy of the worker who has just looked up and realized that her shift ended five minutes ago.  She didn’t have to do this anymore.  Her call had been answered.

“Don’t you feel,” she started again, smiling more brightly than any normal human should at just after six on a Saturday morning, “that it’s going to be a beautiful day?”

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