I was sitting in the subway station, Bowling Green, the most southern station for the 6# train in Manhattan. From noon to now, 4 hours had passed and I was still sitting on the same bench, beside the same man named Jimmy.
At 4:30 pm, I would take the 6# train north to Grand Central and then the 7# train to Flushing Main St. I knew it was there, my warm, beautiful apartment. And Sara, my angel, would be in the kitchen, fixing our dinner. I would give her a hug and kiss her sweet lips. I would also tell her that I was going to get promoted soon. The secretaries were working on the papers and I would have an office facing central park. My honey would scream and throw herself in my arms, kiss me, look at me adorably.
I thought I was dreaming again. Oh, yes, it was a dream. It had been 6 days since I lost my job. Sara didn’t know it. I was afraid to tell her. We had owed our landlord 2 months rent already, thanks to the medical bill for my broken arm. Bills for everything. We were barely making ends meet, but I was kicked out of my small company. I was exhausted after 3 days of fruitless hunting for any possible job. Sara never complained. She works harder than ever. She loves me and I love her, with every drop of my blood.
But the situation was—we had less and less to talk about. Why, I didn’t know. Maybe we were too familiar with each other. Maybe we were both too tired. Maybe we were already bored with each other. Our passion faded into the monotonous grind of life. But Sara was still beautiful and charming, like 6 years ago, when we were college undergraduates. I knew a guy with a face like Tom Cruise who had been after her for a while. He owned a big, fancy coffee bar. I wondered how she felt about him. No, no, I don’t want to know.
New York has the most complex and longest subway system. It’s long enough for me to map it for many days. I was wandering in every station like a ghost. I changed trains randomly. I saw the bands singing, dancing. I listened to folks talking their stories. I watched trains screeching up and down. I gazed at the sexy, dancing girl with an ipod on the ads. “Sara is much more attractive than you.” I said to myself.
“My god, it can’t be true! It can’t be true.”
Jimmy was murmuring again, mourning the brothers tragically killed by a drunken driver and someone in Iraq. He was a forty year old bachelor, a self-proclaimed virgin. It’s of little wonder for a five and a half foot tall man with a face 20 years older than its owner, boring speech, annoying body odor, and most importantly, without much money in his pocket and holding no interest for women.
“Sam is a nice boy; so cute, so funny, and so boisterous. So is his brother; handsome and energetic. I liked to watch him flirting with girls, every girl in our neighborhood. I love them. How can they be killed? How? Twelve and nineteen, this world is crazy, man. ”
“Sometimes, bad things happen to good people. Get used to it, buddy.” I patted his shoulder and stood up.
The train was tightly packed with men and women eagerly heading home. “I’m heading home too”, I thought to myself.
It will not seem like such a long way if you are thinking of a beautiful girl’s smile. However it could be a long journey if you are anxiously looking forward to seeing someone, so I felt neither pain nor happiness from south end of Manhattan to Flushing.
Outside of the subway station at Flushing, the sky was hazy and the air stunk. An old Chinese man was shouting for his vegetables and fruits in Chinese.
“How much is the pineapple?” I pointed to the biggest one in his small stand after I confirmed he didn’t understand my words from his confused but friendly face. He immediately showed me a small paper with “$1.75 LB” on it. I nodded to him and picked the biggest one up to him. He smiled happily with his mouth open, showing his yellow and black teeth. I answered with my first smile of the day.
Pineapple is Sara’s favorite. I stepped up to the old apartment building. The wood floor inside creaked with rhythm. I stopped in front of our unit. There were two pairs of shoes. One was red high-heels, which I bought for her 24th birthday, two years ago. The other was a pair of shiny black boots that didn’t belong to me.
I stood there for 5 minutes. I didn’t hear anything and I didn’t knock. I walked away, leaving the big pineapple beside the red high-heels. “She will see it and she will like it just as before.” I thought. I stood at the entrance of the subway station. The lights were bright and it was so noisy and lively in Chinatown. But I could hear nothing and see nothing.