I was asleep on the train and then I woke up. Someone I knew was sitting next to me. She wanted me to read to her aloud. She couldn't read the word 'schedule'. I tried to read aloud but every time I did a few words would come out and then my mouth would hang open and I wouldn't be able to close it. I could only make sounds in the back of my throat. I knew that I was capable of reading aloud, only my mouth wouldn't move. I fell back asleep.
When I woke up there were a few little girls boarding the train. They must've been 9 or 10 years old. One of them sat next to me. I dozed off. I woke up and one of their friends was getting on at a new stop. She had a striped blue and white shirt. My clothes were all out of my bag. How did that happen? The girls seemed to be running away from something. They huddled together and spoke to each other as if they had a plan. I started picking my clothes up off the floor and putting them back in my bag. I had to reach over the girl next to me. Sorry, I said. I went back to sleep.
I wake up in real life with a little bit of drool on the side of my mouth and a slight fear that if I try to speak my mouth will hang open and never close again. There is a person beside me in a striped shirt. It has only been an hour and a half since I fell asleep. I'm supposed to be asleep for the next 10 hours.
Have you ever said goodbye to someone at a train station? Have you ever sat in your seat and looked out the window and the person you care about is standing there waiting for the train to leave? I have, and all I want to do is jump out the window and leave the train behind. But the train starts to move and my girl starts to cry. I want to ask someone when I will see her next but I'm afraid to know. I lay down across two seats and let small tears crawl down my cheek. Hey, how're you doing… the ticketman comes to collect my ticket. His voice trails off as he sees me crying and he avoids eye contact. I fumble with my ticket. Sorry, I say. He says nothing. I go to sleep. I want to sleep until the boa constrictor in my chest unravels and slinks away.
When I wake up again on the second train the person in a striped shirt is gone. I am unsure if they were ever there or if it was something I dreamed into life. There is no evidence of their being there. I want to go back to sleep but instead I write. The shake shake of the train makes me feel like vomiting when I stare at my screen. I write until I feel fully nauseous. I want to be asleep. I write 'I want to be asleep'.
I want to be asleep.
I have a brown paper bag full of snacks for the train, but I'm not hungry. I pick at the food on top; chips, some candy, and a peanut butter bar. It is only till much later that I check the bottom of the bag for more food. There's a napkin underneath with words written on it and I feel my throat close up and my eyes burn again. There is a flood behind my eyelids and if I keep them closed it will not leak out. To anybody else, I suppose, the napkin is just a napkin. But to me it's a little bit of home, or a little bit of a place where there's warmth and comfort. It's a part of a safety blanket. I keep it at the bottom of the bag.
The train is very cold. I wear your shirt and your sweater and your hat. I want to feel like I am wearing you, but it just feels like I am wearing your sweater.
In relation to the earth and the universe, we are just two tiny blips on a very big map. There are many people who have lived before us, and many who will live after. There are many people in our time who we will never meet, who will never know us separately or together, will never be touched or changed by us, will never know our names. We will likely be lost in the history books, but we have found each other. We exist to love and to be loved, to know that our own stories are enough.