Commute: An Hour Earlier

Waiting at the train station. My bags are heavy. My body, tired. More stares this morning but I’m the same me.

A passing train brings a cool breeze that momentarily chills the sweat on my brow. Another train comes, closer this time, and blocks the breeze. The movement of people adds to the heat.

Yesterday coming home took twice as long. There was an accident on the track. That normally serves as code for someone jumped. Is that what it meant yesterday?

Yesterday was an hour later getting home. Today an hour early leaving it.

The train comes and I get inside. It’s cool inside but there is a smell. I look at the priority seats. They are full at both ends of the train. Maybe one person actual deserves a seat there. Going this direction the train isn’t so full and empty seats dot the carriage. I try and decide if that makes those taking up the priority seats better or worse.

Work hasn’t started yet and already in thinking about the return trip. I wonder how many times I’ve sat in this same train this same car. It’s a grey monotony.

I remind myself that work itself is enjoyable. Good people, good kids. Better than the commute.

The time I left the house Themis morning is usually when my son and I start to play. When I didn’t pick him up from his bed he started to cry. I washed his empty bottle before leaving and tries to tinker his sad cries hurt. When he stopped I wondered if would fall back asleep.

His mother, eyes closed, barely nodded when I said goodbye. She’s been sick. Coughing at night and can’t sleep well. It’s taking its toll on her. And on me. We’re both on edge. I say goodbye again to make sure she heard me. Another small nod. I grab my bag and head out the door.

The train is slowly emptying. The smell gets better. Soon I’ll get off the train and start walking. The first ten minutes will be through crowds of people and clouds of smoke. My nose will wrinkle in disgust.

Then I’ll cross the Main Street and head right. The roads will be empty and I’ll be surrounded by houses I can’t afford. I’ll think about which designs I like and which ones I’ll change. Which ones are possibilities for the future.

I dream of my as a novelist and my wife as an artist. We set our own hours and make time to have lunch together a few times a week. Sometimes we walk to the park together. We laugh together. When our son comes home he adds to the laughter.

Before the fantasy can end I’ll get to the gate of my workplace, show my ID card and go inside.

The train pulls into my station. I pick up my bags and start walking.

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