More Than Words Can Ever Say
The doors to the subway jolted her back to reality. She couldn’t figure out if she had fallen asleep or fallen into a daydream, but nothing seemed real. She seemed detached as if she was looking at herself from outside of her body. It was a feeling that she couldn’t put words to, but something she felt was so real. In her head, she was trying to keep track of the stops.
Was there a stop after 85th?
It all seemed like a blur. And nothing at all. Twenty stops to home she kept reminding herself. Had the recorded voice said another stop.
Wait, twenty minus three equals seventeen.
Seventeen stops to home. Or sixteen.
She would know what the Marcy station looks like when she sees it. But would she see it? She could barely see her hand in front of her face. She knew it was there. She put it there. She knew where it was. Where it should be. But she couldn’t see the pink nails she spent nearly an hour getting done earlier.
Pink nails. She remembered her nails were pink. Ballet shoe pink to be exact, but the last few hours there was nothing to remember. Maybe she was going blind like her grandmother. It took her grandmother three years to go completely blind, maybe her case was more severe.
17 stops to go.
The train slowed to a stop and the doors opened.
She squeezed her eyes shut and clutched her purse tightly against her side. She drew in a deep breath and counted to four. Exhaled and initiated the same count. She repeated this sequence three more times before she was interrupted by the automated voice:
This station stop is Cypress Hills.
The doors opened and closed and for the first time, she heard feet tumbling onto the train. The steps were heavy, she figured it was a man, maybe two. Definitely two men. Maybe three. She opened her eyes and could see shadowy figures. Two to be exact. She couldn’t make out any features, just their outlines, in grayish-black. Finally, there was a third. To the right of her. She glanced at her side and could see a similar outline, except his, was colored much brighter.
If I’m going to go blind, at least my hearing isn’t failing me.
She smiled to herself at the thought of having some sort of supersonic hearing. It would be something to make her extraordinary, despite being blind, she always wanted to feel extraordinary. She started to imagine what a life of blindness, with supersonic hearing be like. Would she need a dog? How about a walking stick? Could she live alone? No, she thought, she couldn’t live with her mother anymore. Her thoughts raced as the train came to another stop.
She lost count again but this time it wasn’t because she was daydreaming or blacking out. She was imagining life newly blind. It was keeping her aware during the trip home, so she entertained it and never panicked over the fact that her vision was impaired at the moment. Just as this fact was setting in, her supersonic hearing picked up footsteps towards her. She looked up and saw one of those figures moving towards her. She increased the grip on her purse and looked where she imagined his eyes should be.
“What’s up Ma? Where you coming from looking so sexy?”
The words were trapped in her stomach. She couldn’t get them up into her vocal cards to answer. She, instead, focused on the shadowy figure in front of her. And looking for the two that boarded the train with him. Maybe those two were together and got off at the last stop. She scolded herself for not paying attention. She was off imagining herself as a blind superhero and not being aware of her surroundings.
“You don’t hear me talking to you or you think you’re too good for me?”
Again, no words. She moved her arms slightly as if they were restricting the mobility of her words. The second dark figure appeared to the right of the first. She was relieved that she hadn’t missed his exit. Then, she registered danger that he was approaching her too. She was looking for the third person when the doors opened.
No. That’s 14.
14 more stops.
“It’s impolite to ignore people. I don’t care how pretty you is.”
The second shadow had a deep voice. He sounded like her grandfather. Even used grammar like he did when he was alive. However, this was no comforting feeling. Whenever her usually quiet grandfather spoke, it usually meant she, her brother or one of her cousins had disturbed him in some way. There were many ways to do that. A laugh, a cry, running, walking too fast, going outside, coming into the house, asking for water, drinking juice. Everything seemed to annoy her grandfather. She’d taken to sitting quietly and disappearing into the world inside her head whenever she visited her grandparents, so not to upset the man. He’s had a hard life is all anyone would say as an answer if the children dared to raise a question of why the old man was the way he was.
“Oh, you can’t hear me either? Or, you can’t talk?”
He laughed, and she cried inside. She lost her words and didn’t know where inside of herself she could find them. She stared, as helplessly as she felt she could. The shadows began moving towards her until she could feel the darkness hovering above her.
“You need something in your mouth to help you talk?”
The first shadow spoke again, and its twin laughed. They said more, but her newly acquired superpower failed her. Superpower? Who was she to think she would even be associated with anything exceptional. To her right, the bright light appeared and seemingly overpowered the darker forms that had moved in on her.
“Back up Russ. You too Chris. Can’t you see you’re scaring the lady?”
“Lady? All I see is a stuck-up bitch!”
She wanted to say that she’s not stuck up. But, her eyes are failing her and she’s forgotten how to talk. If she could, she would say thank you for saying that she’s pretty. She’d say anything to keep the men from getting angry with her.
Stop. Open doors. Closed doors. Moving.
The train seemed to be moving much faster now that she was separated from the dark twins by this shining light in front of her. She traced the outlines of the light, trying to imagine what filled it. It helped her remain alert. She saw the bright lights surrounding other people getting on and off the train for the next few stops.
Occasionally, there was a dark light or two, a few shades of blue, but nothing nearly as dark as those being blocked out by the sun rays standing in front of her. She was drawn to the sun. Always had been. She felt like it shone on certain days for her especially and this was one of those moments. She had her own personal sunshine.
The train slowed, and the voice said they were pulling into the Flushing station. There was relief. Her shoulders relaxed as she loosened the grip on her purse.
Only 3 more stops.
“This is my stop. You get home safely.”
The sun had moved from directly in front of her and was heading towards the door, away from her. She instantly felt the warmth leave her face, her body. She tried to find its path, but the light was gone. Instead, all she saw was the back of a head. The back of a head, jacket, jeans and sneakers.
“Yeah, get home safely...bitch!”
She knew that was the voice of the first dark shadow. For the first time, she could see his face before he laughed into the closing doors. He looked like men she’s seen before. A man she first saw when she was 11 years old. On the street walking home from school. Outside of her gym. At work. Across from her on many train rides. Three stools down at the bar.
She looked around and saw noses, eyes, lips, hands, ears, tattoos, smiles and cell phones replaced the colors she’d been seeing for the latter part of her ride. The train finally arrived at the Marcy station and she jumped from her seat and sprinted towards the stairs.
The walk to her apartment was made much faster than it ever had been and just as she took her key from the lock, her cell phone rang. She grabbed it from her purse and stared at it as if she didn’t know she carried it with her.
“Hey, girl, how was your date?”
The night replayed in her mind: dinner, drinks at the bar afterwards, feeling overwhelmingly tired, waking up with her skirt rustled around her waist, stumbling towards the subway station.
She finally located where her words were hiding.
“It was okay.”