It was Friday.  I waited at the subway station for the arrival of my train.  I stood close to the edge, head down, staring at the yellow line.  The point of no return that you weren’t supposed to cross.  The toes of my shoes rested on the border between concrete and yellow paint.  The train arrived from down the tunnel, a rush of thunder and wind.  I raised my face, feeling the powerful gust of air blow through my hair.  It made me think of flying.  This was often the best part of my week.

            I stepped aboard once it rolled to a stop and its doors opened, and sat down.  The people on the train studiously ignored each other, reading newspapers or books or the advertisements along the ceiling.  I watched them for a while, wondering why they lived like this, and then stared out the window, watching the flashing lights go by.  As a child, I would only travel to the city once a year to see the museum.  Back then I would imagine the train was a time machine, taking me through time and space.  Now, I just lost myself in the rhythm of the tracks. 

            Eventually we reached my stop, and I took the stairs to the Greyhound terminal.  I found a window seat on my bus, and stared out at the city.  It was evening, dusk painted the streets in grey light.  People and cars moved around in my window in a dreamy haze.  The world fell into twilight as we left town, passing by other cities, fields, and forests.  I would watch oncoming traffic, lost in the white blur of their headlights travelling through the darkness.  Then I would watch red taillights receding into the distance.  The world was a Monet painting of blurred colours and lights.  I drifted, lost.

            It was fully dark by the time I arrived at the station.  My uncle was waiting in his beat-up old pickup truck.  He leaned out the window.

            “You ready to work?”  He said in his gruff voice.

            I grunted agreement, throwing my bag in the truck-bed and hauling myself into the cab.  He drove off.

            “How was school?”  He asked, trying to be polite.

            “Fine.” I answered, not caring.  He stopped trying to make chitchat after that.  It didn’t suit him or me. 

            He was wearing the same heavy denim coat he always wore in the autumn.  His beard was going grey, but his hair was still brown.  I looked more like his son than his nephew, with my beard.  His was a personal choice.  Mine was from being too tired to shave.  I was tired all the time.

            I worked all night in the meat plant, cleaning up blood and chunks from the machines.  Midnight sanitation crew.  I made every surface clean, the metal shiny.  I liked it because I restored order.  I liked it because I worked alone.

            In the morning, half asleep on my feet, I gathered my coat around me.  Dark, forest green corduroy that gave comfort from its weight.  I was wearing my favourite sweatshirt underneath it, a lighter green hoodie.  It was increasingly colder every morning.  I stumbled to the truck.  He shoved my shoulder good-naturedly to wake me once we pulled up to my parents’ house.  I sat up, blinking, and exited the vehicle.  Yawning, I waved as he drove off.

            I made my way inside as silently as possible, and tumbled into bed.  I would sleep most of the day, and then work again the next night.  Sunday I would head back to school in time for classes on Monday.  One of my sisters said I was never home.  A friend at school recently complained that I was missing everything there.  I began to wonder where I lived.  Perhaps on the bus, watching taillights and dreaming.

<<Previous   Next>>

Advertisements