Thursday, August 25, 2011


She barely bothered to look up from her library book as the drone of a conductor announced over the crackly intercom that there would be a delay in service. There was always a delay in service. Just like her life. Delay. Delay. Delay….Delay. She closed her book and placed it squarely on her lap as the train slowed and she thought about her destination. She was headed to a Sperm-a-rama in Chelsea. A donation clinic. Yes. It had come to this. She hadn’t had the fairy-tale romance with the cute Biology nerd in high school who would have turned into her Prince Kinda Charming. Instead, she’d had decades of non-relationship relationships that turned both her psyche and her romantic notion of futuristic nuptials into a confusing heap of nothingness. (At least that’s how she’d recently described it to her therapist.) And it didn’t help that the first boy she’d brought home in ninth grade was thoroughly rejected by her parents. Yes, he’d been to a correctional facility, but wasn’t the key word “correctional”? She’d long ago learned not to trust herself.

But, she was trying to change all that. She didn’t necessarily long for that Kodak moment where the coolest most trendiest photographer captured her blissful day of bountiful red roses and that magical kiss at twilight on the white sands of  Kauai. Yeah, she no longer longed for that. She now longed for her future…one that didn’t involve only herself, a pilled yellow blanket and her cat. She felt she owed herself more than that. She owed herself a family. Whatever it looked like, and however it came about, it would still fall under that definition. And she wanted that.

She looked up. There was something different about this delay on the N train. People were whispering; actually talking to each other in tones that didn’t resemble crazy shouting. She wondered what all the whispering was about.

“What’s good, yo?” (She didn’t really say this. Being in New York made her want to be cool like the Brooklyn boys, but she just was not.) What she did say was, “Hey, what’s going on?” She said to her neighbor whom she had gently nudged off her shoulder twenty minutes earlier around 96th street.

“Suicide,” the lady slithered. She was missing a few teeth. (Other than that, and having fallen asleep on her shoulder, she was all good.) “Someone jumped on the tracks, dearie.”
“Suicide?” She discretely swiped the lady’s slithered spit from her cheek as she looked around the somewhat crowded train. The shock and horror was registering on the brown, white, blue (yes, blue), yellow and beige faces around her slowly like a gentle wave on the Hudson.
“Gross,” she thought. The train had slowed to a snail’s pace. Maybe slower. The roar of them tunneling through Manhattan had subsided to the whir of a spin cycle on a new Kenmore. Some passengers had risen from their plastic gum-n-graffiti stained orange seats to peer out the scratched window of the caboose. Apparently, their car was the one that did him in. At first, she thought bad things about those crass people running to the window to see a potentially dead body on the tracks. Then, honestly, she thought, “Why should they have all the fun??”

She hoisted herself up from her seat, careful not to drop her book on the scummy floor. She took several slow paces down the aisle toward the window and nudged herself between a Wall Street guy and a Bronx babe. Like a true transplanted New Yorker, she fit in where she didn’t fit in. She leaned in to the cloudy bullet-proof glass and peered into the darkness of the tracks. And there it was. Her first dead body.

It was slumped over backwards like a wonton. She could really only see blue jeans. The upper torso was hidden. By the large size of the legs, she assumed them to belong to a man. He looked lonely. The shrouded subway tunnel had lent itself nicely to his situation.

Yes, she wondered why he jumped, but her concern centered more on why he didn’t want to live. She knew she’d never know. Even if she scoured the Post and The Times and watched NY1 every morning for a week, no bits of sensational news would ever give her the insight she needed from this stranger that could only have been obtained by having walked with him and held his hand on the 57th Street platform right before he jumped.

Life is so fragile, she thought. Especially when you are hit by the N train. Still glued to the window, she thought twice (actually one hundred and twice) about what she was on her path to do before this guy had derailed it. Maybe he’d saved her from a big mistake. Maybe this was the one delay she’d ever needed in her life, because suddenly, spending $4000.00 on several vials of some stranger’s volatile sperm to create a kid that may end up not alive on the tracks of the N train seemed like a total….waste.

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