Excerpts from a GO Train ride

Another day, but with the same old story. He carefully laid his balding head and whatever was left of his salt-and-pepper hair (though truthfully more salt than pepper, nowadays) against the rattling glass, trying to ignore the bumps and close his eyes. The attempt to sleep seemed to much to ask. Every once in a while, he’d open his eyes a smidge to see where they were along the too-familiar route, not really dozing but too tired to be present. Once, he even saw a teenage girl with a hula hoop waving at him.

She was trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Her damned kids had probably eaten already, without a thought to her. It was a terribly lonely business, raising selfish children who tried to be helpful but really just made her more work with every misstep. What is that girl doing out there without a coat? My kid better have worn at least a sweater today.

The girl tried unsuccessfully to make the violin case between her knees mildly comfortable. Was she taking up too much space? She didn’t want to touch the man sitting so closely next to her, so she crossed her arms but that got too weird. She uncrossed them slowly, trying not to jostle him as he dozed, but instead rattled the paper bag on her lap and he stirred. Don’t look up, don’t make eye contact with anyone. Hey, look at that girl in the park, she’s got sick hair. Maybe red won’t draw too much attention on commutes.

Why did they have to put that stupid ad sticker in my window space, you can barely see through this crap.

He turned his face up to the sunlight streaming through the window, smiling. Little things had changed about the view, but it was a familiar face amid the chaos of the rat race. He was listening to a podcast, a cheeky look at the design of the modern world. He would softly giggle under his breath, not minding the weird looks because he was looking at the sky and he was home, even if only for a short while. A girl waved at him from a small park, long skirt ruffling in the wind. He waved back gleefully, even though he knew she’d never see, and then looked back up at the sky with a contented sigh.

The boy with his electric guitar plugged firmly into nothing couldn’t help but chuckle. She looked ridiculous with her crazy red hair sticking up in all directions and the blue hula hoop around her waist woefully bowing down to the grass in front of her.
Why do you have to wave at every train you see?
She laughed, refusing to tear her eyes away from the green monstrosity.
I really don’t know.

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