Another story ... This time from my first fiction class ...
Girl on the Metro
Hello ... A whole month and I’m still walking around on glass. But people wouldn’t believe me if they knew, even though they see me every freakin day.
You know, I’ve always hated the phrase, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Those words give way too much credit to humanity methinks. Seeing to believe? How much do we really, really see? Shouldn’t people really say, "I’ll believe it when somebody can show me rock solid evidence, when it actually matters to me?" Leave a message at the tone … beep …
People see every moment. Yet no one can surely, truly believe what they see. No one recognizes people for what they are, or the experiences they wear on their skin like a tattoo. No one seems to ask for a name today because no one can see right in front of them, much less remember a few moments later. Why bother with formalities when there isn’t even time to look at someone. Anything can start with a hello, can’t it?
There is not-a-one, yet we all continue to see and place people in the tidiest of boxes, the emptiest of labels, in the simplest way. Fat Guys, Hot Girl, Baldy, Wino, Ugly, Gangster, Skinny Chick, Mother of Seven, Dude, Lesbo, Baldwin, Dead, Zombie. The list goes on and on and on, some names more interesting than other ones. Some seem more intimidating.
I have the honor and privilege to be one again for you today good, kind-eyed Sir.
Pleased to meet you, I’m just the “Girl on the Metro.” (But I would feel much more interesting if I were The Zombie.)
I see you every day, week after week, but have not spoken to you. You’ve seen me every day, week after week, but have never spoken to me. I haven’t said more than two words to anyone on this train for a while now. It doesn’t matter to you how this damsel ended up here in Metropolis, boarding the “E” every day of the week at seven in the morning. It doesn’t matter why I prefer to stand instead of sit, even though my orange JanSport pack weighs over twenty pounds. Heaven forbid I have to sit down by someone. Sheesh!
You never wonder how I can afford that mauve leather bag I clutch to my chest, or the handmade canvas protected by two sheets of cardboard I snatched from outside by the dumpster. It seems to bother you that I don’t wash my hands, like I’m some kind of Street Waif. But I do wash! Two, sometimes three or more times a day, under scalding hot water until I turn cherry red.
Don’t worry good sir, its only pure pigment from mixing tempera on my fingers. Egg yolks are good for the skin you know, though I probably can’t say the same for the pigment. Now, if you could get past the stains, you would realize how enjoyably soft they really are. You can only guess I’m one of those Crazy Bohemian Chicks, minus the dreadlocks. You think you know the ones; they don’t eat meat and brazenly dance naked in the rain shamelessly. WooHoo! Rain exists to dance off the ground don’t ya know. There you go seeing again. Knock it off! Sheesh! Why do I have to be so discombobulated … so wary … so quiet when I find a guy interesting …
For a spell, maybe you just chalked it up to my wearing headphones. Possibly that’s why the girl is so silent. Oh no! Don’t worry. It’s not an attempt to ignore anyone (well, yes it is), it’s just my way of performing the unapproachable ‘Girl on the Metro’ you’ve got locked inside your head. Sir, Maybe I didn’t have the cash to plug them in to anything, so I just make up the songs in my head. Take it as my Mad Bohemian Poet nature and not anything too important. I wouldn’t want to ruin your image, you know. The phones keep out unwanted questions – no one wants to bother with someone who shows as much interest in them as they do in me.
I see you Metro Boy between Glitter Girl and the Man with the Magazine. I can’t help but feel tense from your chance casual looks my way. You have a smile that could brighten my day, making it about the only thing I see as natural and untainted in my stained world. My heart is going b-dump, and begins to gallop. Still you continue with your discreet glances. Still I catch myself beginning to blush with every look you take. Does he think I’m pretty? Does this count as an admirer I wonder … Or perhaps I just look weird? Trying to act natural, not daring to take in your profile, well not too much. A peculiar and wonderful muddle of fear, hope and happiness churn within. You know, I really must find that necklace my guardian angel left behind! My fingers clutch tighter on the shiny hand rail as I turned to focus out a window towards the rear of the bus. The Bald Guy two seats back seemed unaware that my eyes were stealing his window outlook.
Everything looks grey out there ... The sidewalks, the windows, the roads, the sky. It’s wet too, the kind of damp that makes your Converse do the slight squeaking sound on the pavement thing. The grey pavements mind you. Then suddenly something’s there; colors that stand out against the grey! Spray paint, Art! Coming in from the outside and then knocks on the heart. Not sure what it says or means, but there is a history nonetheless. Maybe a Girl wrote that, or a Boy. Maybe Dropouts, maybe they’re Aspiring Writers. Possibly they’re Potheads, Photographers, or Freaks. Who knows? Who needs to know? With art, everyone’s the same, and still not the same. I recognize the value of how I can ignore parts, yet let it pour out slices of me alike. Could it be a Lawyer maybe or a Lover? It may possibly be a Surreptitious Judge or ‘just’ an Offender? Hmmm …. Maybe it does matter. But hey, art is hard to interpret. Like people … Like the Metro Girls and Boys …
… Like me. I’m happy, quirky, kindhearted and caring. I’m also sad, lonely, depressing and barely here. I say every line is yet another note in my symphony of colors. I’m all sorts of broken pieces, insecurities, and half-finished characteristics fleetingly blended together, here to give a little shading to the surroundings. I’m in the bargain bin, the finished product will be sent out next Thursday if you please. In the end which is more real? The little ole me that everyone sees every single day, or the one that only I know? What is seen, what you all think you see, is not what’s in front of you. You see what I want you to see, what I want you to see. And that girl is not me. I hate her! If seeing is believing and I only appear when the lights are out or the doors are all closed, why doesn’t someone start banging on the door! Come on; get a crowbar … something … anything! Yeah, maybe it does matter.
I wish that you’d get the nerve to ask me why you rarely see me smile, to investigate me. I’ve always had this fantasy, a sweet dream really, of someone being so kind as to inquire. They’d take me away from this routine “E” train ride, to somewhere quiet and ask me if I was okay, ask me anything. Ask me over coffee perhaps at the cute little French Café on the corner. Yes, that’s the ticket, that’s how it would happen.
“I see you every day and I never see you smile. Are you okay?”
I’d slowly shake my head. No words yet. Can’t look anxious. I’d stare at the swirls in my coffee. It feels hot on my fingers, fighting the temperature of my vintage country mug. I puff on the steam rising in spirals. “It reminds me that I want to shower again.”
There. Now I’m interesting.
“How come?” And then it would happen, “Tell me …”
But you won’t …
Best for me to build an uninviting fence I tell ya. No one would care to climb over or crawl under it when they think they know what is on the other side of it. Like a nasty Rottweiler snarling, licking its chops or something. No one will know I have a story. And if no one knows, I don’t have to tell it. So I’ll reserve myself until my time comes. I was stupid to think you could see Sir. I don’t blame you. You’ll just go on knowing nothing about me and its best it probably stays that way. What was I thinking? Hell, I don’t even like coffee!
I don’t want anyone to see anyways, unless they are willing to look. It would only be then that it would be worth the risk of seeing a face without seeing someone’s back again. Suppose what you will, I’ll always be ‘that’ girl to you Sir. Kind, reluctant and forgettable. You don’t have to listen, oh no you don’t. In fact I know that you won’t. I’m just that Bohemian Girl on the “E”. You know all there is about the Girl on the Metro, don’t cha now.
But you know nothing about these: The Survivor girl, The Abused, The Sick, The Beaten, The Hurting, and The Muse. Therefore, my good Sir, you know so little about me. You don’t have a clue about the nights I spent under my bed and under those men in whom I should have been able to trust. Do you understand what it feels like to be bent in half or snapped in two? Wham, bam, thank you mam. Do you Sir, have a clue what it feels like to not feel truly human. I open my mouth as if to say, “You’re still beautiful.” But we both know that’s not true. And the thought makes me want to cry, just a little, but I hide it so very well.
It really is wrong of me to think that because you see me every day that you are responsible to dig at me, and find the better parts of me. I shouldn’t think that of anyone. Everyone has secrets that they long to hide, hoping that they will not be exposed by anyone. Burying them in the backyard, veiled behind umbrella drinks in festive colors, and keeping them behind meaningless conversation, hidden by flowers and barbeques. I am the secret and I want to be free. I want to be known! I want to get rid that that girl who pretends to be me, sweet, gentle, smiling and ever so kind. The one you forget about when you are in the same room as them, and on the same goddamned train every day.
Goodbye Sniper. Do not think I owe you anything, and you’ll forget all about me and the words I’ve never said. I’m ready to break the rules of the ‘Girl on the Metro’. I wish you would make an effort, I’m so tired of being ‘hard to get’. I’ve tried to call out for so long but can never find my voice. No one is listening again today anyway; they only believe what they see. Well you know they all see me, why aren’t they looking?
The “E” slows to a gentle stop in front of the Café Toi et Moi. It’s her stop. Beneath the Tuesday morning traffic, the laughter of the teens in the back, and the flurry of activity of the fellow Metro-ites clambering to get on and off the train, there was a voice. It was a cautious masculine voice reaching towards the Bohemian picking up a handmade canvas, protected by two sheets of cardboard.
“See you tomorrow.”
I gather my ‘art’, dangling my bag over my shoulder. I didn’t look back as I stepped of the train into the milieu. Nor did I look back as the train drove off down its tracks, leaving the busy sidewalk as my companion. I dare not see what look his face might show, apprehensive at what emotions his eyes would betray. Does he find me interesting? Or would his face reflect disgust? Or worse yet, it would be nothing at all. Better to live in uncertainty, than face what his face might display. Now I can save my hopes, fears and anticipations, for perhaps the next train ride.
The “Girl on the Metro” walks a few paces, peeks in the toy store window and then abruptly stops. Suddenly apprehending, and nearly getting rear ended by another bumbling pedestrian with an unpleasant word or two to say in the process.
Was that “See you tomorrow???” Hello …
Cafe Toi et Moi = Cafe Me and You
Cafe Toi et Moi = Cafe Me and You