The sudden jerk of the train woke Rena up with a start. She blinked a couple of times realizing she was still on the subway. Her head was pounding from the roar of the tracks. She adjusted her headphones letting the music echo heavily in her ears. Rena closed her eyes again trying to ignore the headache which just wouldn’t go away. She scanned the train car mindlessly. The lone guitarist stringing at his guitar grateful for every penny thrown into his hat; the mother trying to calm her restless children; the punk rocking to his music blasting so loud for all the train to hear. The teenagers boisterously arguing. Rena looked back down at her darkly painted fingernails noticing the chipping nail polish. She took a deep breath as she switched the song on her I-pod and ran her fingers through her long straightened hair, noticing it was beginning to get oily, yearning for a warm shower.
Closing her eyes again, images kept creeping back into her mind. Her brother’s scared face… She tried pushing away the expression on his face when he walked into the bathroom and saw her holding the pills. She tried pushing away the image of her father’s anger. She tried closing her eyes to her mother’s tears. Rena fidgeted with her I-pod trying to blast the music to flood out all her thoughts. But still, between the drumbeats she heard her brother’s confused tone saying her name over and over.
“Rena…Rena!” his tone was surprised. His tone was afraid. His eyes spelled confusion. He slowly let his fingers fall from the door knob as he backed away muttering, “Rena you’re kidding right?”
She shuddered as she remembered her uncontrolled reaction. Slamming the door violently. Screaming for him to leave. It all kept creeping back at her. The loud flush of the toilet, the pills swirling down away forever. Sitting on the hard subway seat, Rena buried her face in her knees trying to block out the sounds of yelling, the endless phone calls, the endless stares from her neighbors and friends. How did she mess it all up? She asked herself over and over. But as she thought of that she heard her mother asking the same.
“Rena what happened? Rena what was wrong? Why did you do this?” And somehow as her mother’s pained voice banged at her mind dripping in guilt, she couldn’t pinpoint a specific answer.
The train came to a sudden screeching stop. Rena looked up, staring at her blank reflection in the subway window. The dark eyeliner outlining her eyes was beginning to run. Loose strands of hair hung in her face blocking her pained eyes. Again she looked around the car noticing the confusion on everyone’s faces. She lowered her music and suddenly heard the conductor announcing, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are sorry for the inconvenience but the M train is being rerouted to the A line. For the M train please transfer at the next stop.”
Rena glanced at the map trying to figure out how exactly she would get to her destination now. Annoyed she looked at the rest of the passengers whose feelings were visible on their faces. She tried figuring out which train to transfer to as she began thinking about how crazy it made everyone when one train was rerouted. One train off its tracks. One train off the planned route. It messes everyone up. And slowly the stops on the map all came clear. She was on the wrong route.
Rena bit her lip as suddenly she saw her reflection differently. She saw herself as a lost train. Her dripping eyeliner. Her chipped nail polish. Her short skirt. She ran her fingers through her hair nervously as she approached the chassidishe woman sitting with a bunch of children. Pulling out her head phones and tugging at her skirt Rena took a deep breath and anxiously asked, “Excuse me.”
The chassidishe women looked up at her curiously and nodded. “I’m trying to get to Boro Park,” she asked bravely. She made up her mind. She would reroute her train too. The women furrowed her eyebrows and tried explaining which train to take. Rena thanked her and as she got off the train she fished for her phone in her bag full of open candy wrappers and endless packages of gum. Stepping outside onto the sidewalk the sun blinded her in her realization. She turned her phone back on ready to face the phone calls and texts. Sliding the touch screen she dialed her home number, her heart pounding with every ring. The phone to her ear, she slowly started walking down the street, each step feeling heavier and heavier. The rings seemed to go on forever and Rena bit on her nail waiting for someone to pick up.
Finally she heard her mother’s voice on the other end. “Rena?” echoed over the phone. Her voice had a trace of pain but was eager too. Rena swallowed heavily before finally answering.
“Mommy,” She started as she once again pushed her hair out of her face. “Ma, I’m ready to come home.” She finished and that’s when it all came completely together once again. She would go back on track. Her train was on the right route once again. And the train suddenly started again. The roaring of the tracks. The screeching sound as the metal scraped together. The rhythmic pounding sound as the train powerfully drove down its right track.Alti Bukalov
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