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December 18, 2002
Seat by the door

She looked exhausted from reading the Dining section of the Times. Her makeup barely covered some of the sleepiness in her face. She closed her eyes and rested her head against the stainless steel bars next to the doors of the train. Her hair was short, flat, and out of control. There were maybe 7 gray hairs hidden in the wildest area of her scalp. She might have been somewhere around 25. There was dirt under her fingernails and the cuticles on the fingers were bitten and swollen and red. She pulled out a brown bag and out of it a mint Snapple. She drank the rest of it without a straw. Then came her station.
Her seat did not stay vacant for long. The new passenger had a very clean haircut. Dark hair. He was in his 30ís. His long kashmir coat was closed and his shirt was just two tiny pink triangles divided by a matching necktie. He made his phone peep, then sing, then vibrate. It was a tiny silver model. He closed it and rolled it from one palm to the other as if this were a lump of really slow quicksilver. Until his stop came.
The kid who took his seat wore a pair of snake-leather adidas. He was reading the third book of Naruto. He had also brought other manga, but these did not have their English title anywhere on the cover. I wonder what he might need the extra shirt for, which he bound into a knot and placed on his lap. His clothing seemed rather basic (except for the snakers of course), but the tiny colorful tags in unexpected places told me that this was the cooler kind of stuff.
The man next to me kept repeating the announcer. Just not at clearly as the recorded voice. Maybe because his lower lip was a bit too relaxed? He also read out the stop names when the train was in the station. It was as if he were discovering each letter and then putting them together into these magic words. Ti-me.s Sq u a-re. Please stand clear the closing doors.

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