Thoughts In Train Traffic
By Kenia Torres
When I was told I would have to write an essay about myself as part of my college application I was convinced I couldn’t do it. I had always avoided writing that involved telling my own story; however, in the end I was surprised and proud of the outcome.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please excuse the train traffic ahead of us; we will be moving shortly.”
The words no one wants to hear on a busy Monday morning echoing through the loudspeakers of the E train. The cause of a chain reaction of sighs and frustrated expressions that become more and more desperate as time moves on and we don’t. The word “shortly” does nothing more than reassure those who don’t speak the second most popular language of New York City: subway. Even then, after twenty minutes, it is evident that the word is nothing more than a false hope used to keep passengers calm in this time of utmost despair.
A man in a blue tuxedo leans back on the subway car doors, disregarding the signs that clearly advise him not to. His expression reveals nothing more than the tapping of his foot does, annoyance and disappointment towards the subway system that has once again let him down. In his head he thinks of the excuse he will use this time, daring not to blame his tardiness on the MTA for the third time this week, although it is indeed the only culprit.
A teenager across from him fumbles through his bookbag, pulls out a spiral notebook, and carefully analyzes the writing that has been neatly scripted onto the lined pages. He has forgotten that there’s no school today and will now arrive at an empty high school with no other choice than to return home after a miserable two-hour journey. The conductor’s attempt to communicate with us once more comes out in muffled sounds and high-pitched screeches. The tourist next to me doesn’t speak subway, so I translate for her, “He apologizes for the inconvenience and says that we will be moving shortly.” She sighs, as does everyone else except for me. Judging by her neon pink suitcase and matching neck pillow, she’s worried she’ll miss her flight and will have to wait hours, days, or weeks, to catch another one.
I look around, capturing everyone’s expressions and taking mental notes. The pregnant lady sitting on the other side of me—she’s on the way to her maternity photoshoot. The man standing in the corner with the guitar strapped across his back—he’s performing at a pub later that night for the first time.
In reality, they each have their own story that defines them in one way or another, and if I were to be made aware of that story, I would honor it. However, uninformed about the lives of others and curious for answers, I create my own stories for them. Without knowing it, they become main characters in my novels, the inspiration behind my poems, and the heroes in my fairytales. They are given a new name, new hobbies, and a new life. All of this because of a delayed train and a teenage girl with an imagination that is too wild for her own good.
With a slight jerk forward the train begins moving again, slowly at first, as if threatening to stop again, but then quickly regaining its speed. Alas, the next stop is reached, and the train opens its doors to welcome in new inspiration.
Kenia Torres is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in Queens, NY.