The brown serge, warm in the deluge,
grew clammy and rumpled easily
when squeezed into the five-thirty’s
ever-crowded, cramped seats.
Trillions of stars watched as he
—shoulder to shoulder with neighbors
and strangers in the second car from
the end—relaxed into the swaying ride
down the coast toward the unknowable
emptiness of this Friday evening.
Somewhere, his seat-mate’s newspaper
announced with barely suppressed glee,
a devastating something or other
had caused property damage and,
almost certainly, loss of life.
Somewhere else, right now, he imagined,
a plane was touching down on searing,
crackled tarmac, bumping toward a terminal,
fuselage already covered in red dust,
overhead bins clunk-clunking, heralding
the beginning: of vacations, of adventures,
of memories of a lifetime. Unbelievably,
that lifetime was no longer his; no longer
his, the smile, the camera, the deep bliss
of the first, exhausted flop onto the hotel bed,
the sigh of delight, the de rigeur perusal
of nightstand drawers and room service menu.
Trillions of stars still watched, as the silver line
of his train pulled up to a darkened station,
spilled a swarm of damp, disgruntled
commuters onto the pavement, and heaved
itself southward. Hitching his collar higher,
fingers wound tightly around the house keys
in his pocket, he paused, took one slow breath,
then turned left and headed uphill, trudging
slowly upward into the starry night.
(c) 2017, by Hannah Six