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November 12, 2002
Express train

There were empty seats on the express train. A man by the door kept looking at me as if I had an explanation for what was happening, or not happening here. Another elderly man kept his eyes wide open and focused his entire attention at a thinly woman, dressed in an old purple leather jacket. She was probably my age. She looked as if she were a good sixty. Her body was eaten away, probably by something she put straight into her bloodstream. I think it must have been heroin, because she would lean forward, almost falling over, even though she was sitting and then catch herself just in time. Her eyes closed, her mind somewhere far away. She would return to join us on the train from time to time, but rarely, just rarely, for tiny brief moments. A cane leaning on the seat next to her probably meant that her bones had gone brittle as well. She looked so weak, so tired. There was an open bag between her feet, in it a tiny, now empty basket, the dirt inside of the basket looked as if it came from change. There were some slices of dry bread in a sealed plastic bag deeper in the bag. She probably traveled by train a lot. On her lap was a notebook. It had pockets on the insides of the covers. In the front pockets were several hand painted birthday cards. She pulled one of the cards and her eyes lit up a tiny bit. She smiled and almost smelled the paper, as her body leaned forward again. She drifted away. I saw her hand now, it seemed punctured in places, but it could just be my perception. The hand, somehow independently put the card away. The woman opened random pages of her book. They all seemed to be empty at first, though some of them were marked by plastic bookmarks. There were many bookmarks in her book. One of the pages contained a quite well executed pencil drawing. A boy with blond hair and with white empty pupils was smiling out of the book at her. There were braces in his smile. The woman leaned forward even further now, she turned into a purple leathery ball. I thought she might be crying, but again, this could have been my bad interpretation. Her hand touched the drawing.
It was time for me to leave the train. The one I entered was packed with people who knew even less about the woman, the birthday, the boy.


Witold, you would go absolutely insane out here in the suburbs. So few opportunities to observe people on trains. And the observation of driving habits gets old very fast.

I used to really enjoy sitting on the train, trying to guess everyone's "story". Amazing how I always assumed that several of them were art directors ;-)

Posted by: Patrick on November 13, 2002 08:40 AM
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