I’ve found myself imprisoned in a dimly lit subway station for the past three years. All around passengers waited for trains, ready to move on with their lives. Every now and again a train would approach. The bright light fixed on the engine’s nose would illuminate the ugly puke-colored floor tiles and bring a short burst of life into an otherwise dreary environment. A loud hum of the overworked engine would huff down the track until an ear-piercing shriek of the braking process caused passengers on the platform to wince in pain from the awful cries of friction. With a mechanical pop the door opens allowing passengers to step off and in return those waiting to get on once it was clear. Day after day, night after night, these trains passed by and people got off and more got on, but I never did.
Unlike the flow of passengers occupying this lonely station, I stayed still. When the opportunity arose I found something wrong with every train. Sometimes the doors wouldn’t open fully, other times a hesitant conductor would creep toward the platform with paranoia hovering above. Majority of the trains looked to be in good condition, but some held paint blemishes and chipped decals. My nitpicking even came down to the specific characteristics of the travelers. There was always a handful of faces you couldn’t trust; ones with deceiving and alluring eyes of soft blues or sharp greens, the heartbreakers of the bunch. Passengers would glance my way but only for a moment before continuing on with their own life. The negativity grew so large for every item, a hill of complaints was formed in the center of the platform delaying my desire to board even further. The train authorities (or whomever puts the cars on the tracks) could roll out a brand new high-tech train with gadgets and warmed seats for a cold ass on a rainy day, or better yet, a massage feature with a fresh pair of comfortable clothes, and I still wouldn’t board. On occasion, someone would stop and ask if I needed assistance or if they could help me board a train. With a smile and a sad tone I would push them away, leaving myself to rot for another evening of pity.
I was waiting for a train that has long departed the station. A train that I will never have the opportunity to approach again. Any jury in America would convict me without hesitation as guilty for my destruction of engine parts and the blame I placed upon the conductor without admitting full responsibility. I’ve written to the train authorities on several occasions apologizing for my selfish acts and lack of thought or consideration of the conductor’s emotional state but my letters fell on deaf ears. Those that would listen to my explanation would grow bored with the story after hearing it time and time again with no alternate ending nor character development from its narrator.
Like so many days in the past I awoke saddened and alone surrounded by the same cell I’ve sentenced myself to for countless months. However, in a strange turn of events, a familiar sounding engine echoed down the dark tunnel. The traffic on the platform was sparse; very few chose to catch their trains today. From the tunnel came a single beam shining down the tracks toward the platform. When the engine emerged, I was amazed. Painted in a sleek silver coat fitted with emerald green numbers 1018 was the train I had longed for. The brakes engaged silently, there was no loud scream of metal on metal, nor an accompanying hiss of hot air releasing down onto the tracks. When the doors opened no one stepped off or stepped on. Then, before I could take a step closer, the doors slammed shut. In an instant the train powered off down the tracks screaming at rapid speed. At my feet was a piece of paper folded up like a note.
Passenger, while life continues all around you, what have you done to live? We have received your letters, we have heard the information you’ve wished to pass our way through third party representatives, we know (for the most part) what you’re up to…so why haven’t you moved? What’s done is done. Yes, you did in fact alter one of our prime engines and the conductors had to step away in the best way possible for themselves, but only you are responsible for the torture you’ve put yourself through. Engines can be rebuilt better than the first model and conductors can be given time away to clear their heads before returning to the tracks. How many opportunities have you let pass by waiting for THIS train? How many people have offered to help you get onto a similar train but you’ve refused because you desire this train? We’re tired of seeing you at the same station with the same defeated look on yourself day in and day out; we acknowledge your errors and we want you to know that our engine runs better now. We hope this letter heals you and allows you to get off the bench and stop watching life go by. Trains arrive every fifteen minutes, if you’re willing to board.
I felt at peace. Closure and clarity had been finally grasped; I placed the note in my pocket and knelt down to tie my shoes. Upon standing I realized that the puke-colored tile had become a lighter hue of blue and that the walls were polished white. The station lights had suddenly changed from dim and depressing to warming and optimistic. The surrounding travelers conversed about weekend victories and promotions. I stepped onto the escalator and began to ascend. At the top an early afternoon sun was shining down onto the busy streets. I put my sunglasses on and started walking.