F Train To Nowhere

by: Chris Thompson

If no one notices you, are you really there?


A forgotten woman sleeps at breakneck speeds as we rocket farther underground. She is browns and grays, ashen and matte. She is bags and rags, crinkled and flat.

Impossibly down, down her spine bends, as the F train roars steadily on. Further and further her head drops, until her pointed nose brushes gently upon her blanketed knee.

She hides in plain sight as she slumbers. A curtain of silvery hair protecting her from the harsh fluorescent light. The steady ebb and flow of indifferent travelers flickering her in and out of view, shielding her from all but a momentary sight.

She has no face, no eyes or mouth. She has no place, no time or faith.

Her lullaby is the metallic screeching of the train, as it flies forever down its tracks. Her cradle is the rhythmic rocking of the subway car, as it soothes her gently off to sleep. Her family is the calm, electronic voice of the Public Service Announcements, the only familiar sound in her otherwise chaotic world.

“Have a nice day,” the recorded voice offers.

“Stand clear of the closing doors please,” it cautions.

“Transfer is available to the G or Downtown 6,” it suggests.

For a moment in time, she’s visible, the F train disgorging it travelers as it awaits to devour another load. And as I take her in, it’s hard to know if she’s really there, for she’s collapsing in upon herself like a dusty, dying star.

Abruptly, hurried passengers with places to go press inward. A hundred conversations fill the vacant space. And as quickly as she arrived, she’s gone, swallowed up by the endless flow of humanity in flux.

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