It was such a long day that I thought that my eyeballs would fall out. I could have fallen asleep standing right there, on the train. The L wasn’t packed yet, but we were only at 6th Ave. I stood in my normal spot, back to the doors. I had my headphones plugged into my phone and searched for something to fit my mood. I couldn’t find anything for “underpaid and lonely” so I went with St. Lucia instead. I tucked my phone into my peacoat pocket and leaned my head back against the doors as we traveled through the tunnels.
Those of us on the train minded our own business, as always. A man sitting beside me was reading a Chinese newspaper with a picture of the Malaysian Airlines flight that had been missing for two weeks now. A woman held her child’s arm while he tried to climb on the seats and poles around him. He was the type of kid that kicks the back of your seat in movies even after you tell him to stop three times and bribe him with the remainder of your Sno-Caps.
A girl stood against the door opposite me. Her cat eye glasses would have made her face look angular and thin if it weren’t for the basketball sized headphones she wore over her head. I stared at them wondering if the upgrade in music quality was worth the constant fear of tipping over. I wonder if she has to do neck stretches before putting those on?
She stared at her phone intensely. On her back was a black backpack. As I looked closer, I realized it was no ordinary backpack, but a square. There were four distinct corners on each side that formed a picture frame around her torso. I decided I didn’t like this girl.
As the train pulled into Union Square it was apparent that the we were about to mobbed my other commuters. I turned my body sideways so people could enter and leave without having to sacrifice my primo spot. When the doors opened, the alien in a picture frame started to walk towards me to get off the train. As she passed, my headphones cord got snagged by one of the corners on her absurd backpack. I felt my headphones tug in my ears. I yelled out to get her attention, but she couldn’t hear me through her noise canceling turtle shell speakers.
I started to sweat. As she moved, she dragged my phone out of my pocket. My headphones got extremely tight in my ears. I looked down and saw that it was dangling directly over the gap between the train and the platform. My headphones cord created a right angle from my ears to her backpack, backpack to my phone. The only thing keeping my one true love from death and destruction was the sack from LL Bean’s grotesque stepsister.
I yelled again but she couldn’t hear me. She didn’t know that her backpack was now my personal torture device and that the fate of my bank account relied on her stopping her exit from the train. I enter full panic mode. I can’t stop her, I can’t reach my phone, and people are starting to funnel in the car. I’m screaming bloody murder at this woman who I hate as my lifeline to the world dangles closer and closer to falling into the abyss.
Everything starts moving in slow motion. The cord slips to the corner of her picture frame death bag. I’m counting down the seconds to impact as commuters are entering the train on the other side of her. Three – the cord is a half inch from falling. Two – my heart races while I think about the flip phone I’m going to have to use as a replacement. One – the cord slips off and my phone is in free fall.
Suddenly, right before I dive to the ground and in what only be described as divine intervention, a girl entering the train sees my panicked face and snatches my phone out of midair. Without breaking stride, she hands it to me and walks to the opposite side of the train.
Relief sweeps over me as I laugh hysterically in happiness. “THANK YOU HAHAHA OH MY GOD THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!” I maniacally yell at her. I wave frantically at her so she’ll understand my elation. I want to run up and kiss her right on the mouth. “THANK YOU SO MUCH” I yell again.
She can’t hear me, though, because she’s wearing gigantic headphones.