May 22, 2004

While She Cries: A Subway Story

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

She was crying and I barley noticed. I had fallen asleep and I was dreaming about playing poker. I had frequently been having poker dreams and even during a cat nap on the downtown subway, my dreaming life was invaded by gambling. I awoke when someone knocked into my leg. I looked up and an old man with a blind man’s cane was shuffling through the late night subway car. I squinted, opened my eyes again, and looked across from me where a young woman wearing black jeans and pink flip flops, lazily sat. I focused on a blotch of very bad acne on her right cheek. She was crying and rubbed her red puffy eyes, as frazzled spaghetti strands of hair flowed down her face and over her lanky shoulders. I caught her in the middle of a silent sobbing spree, her body almost motionless, any sounds of weeping were muffled by the loud shrieks of the speeding subway car. She was too busy to see me staring at her.

I tilted my head, partly out of sympathy and partly out of curiosity. I had not seen anyone cry on the subway in a few months. I let my mind wander and tried to guess what brought her to a nervous breakdown underground in the New York City subway system. Maybe she was dumped by her boyfriend? Maybe she lost her job? Maybe her cat died? Maybe she found out that she’s pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is? Maybe she stole money from her grandmother to support her boyfriend’s heroin habit? Maybe she got fired after she slept with one of her co-workers’ husbands and got pregnant with his child, after she stole money from her grandmother because her boyfriend threatened to kill her cat unless she gave him his dealer a blow job for all this past unpaid debts?

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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