To The Girl On The Train

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Leanne Surfleet

It began like this.

There was me. Dressed entirely in black, except for nude heels and an obnoxious statement necklace meant to paint a picture of sophistication but falling closer to little girl playing dress up. I am trying to pretend, create a perception of someone and something greater, dousing my suburban scent with Chanel No. 5.

But the fear is evident in my eyes. I walk back and forth, shuffling my papers and notes. The anxiety is in my hands that keep shaking. The coffee is pumping in my veins and the dark circles under my eyes are apparent despite three layers of concealer. I am the embodiment of nerves on the brink of collapse.

And then there’s you.

Nonchalant, leaning against the train doors, dressed in a white crop top and denim shorts that have seen better days. You nod your head to the beat of Tove Lo whose voice transmits through the entire train to the annoyance of most commuters, but to my fascination. I am fascinated, by you and your ignorance to those around you. You do not notice the stares and the subtle grunts of our fellow commuters who do not approve of your loud music. You are unconcerned, existing in a world of your own.

That is until the train suddenly stops and we find ourselves as two polarities colliding into a disheveled mess.

My papers shuffle out of my hand as I lose my balance and you spring forward crashing against the centre pole. Your iPod flies from your hands and lands at my feet while my papers dance around you. When gravity finds us again and the aftermath of the chaos dawns upon us, I look up at you with no notion of what to say but your words speak for both of us.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

There was no better usage for profanity than this moment. There was no alternative that could capture my anxiety, your anger and this recurring train problem that plagues our city.

Fuck, fuck, you continue to reiterate and fuck, I conclude for you. You look at me this time, momentarily before turning away, but I capture your face clearly. I can see the red in your eyes and the traces of day old makeup. I can smell the fading scent of Twilight Woods body spray with overtones of Jack Daniel’s. I can see the unkempt hair with signs of dried vomit and alcohol, and I want to ask you, if you are okay.

But before further words can leave my mouth, you grab your iPod hastily from my feet and take a few steps back sliding against my papers. Fuck your papers. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to mess them. Fuck, fuck, here, I’ll get them. Just let me, fuck…

You are non-stop run on sentences, profanities and apologies. I cannot make rational sense of any of it, so I let you gather the papers for me, while I land to my feet across from you.

Here, you say handing me a disarray of papers. I slowly take them from you and mutter a quiet thanks. You gather one last sheet from the ground and glance at its content. I can see your eyes scan over my writing and watch your expression change as you come to grasp with the absurdity of my work. I want to grab the sheet hastily from you but instead, I watch you laugh and tell me, OCD much? 

Suddenly I am defensive. It’s for an interview, I proclaim, an important one. This excuse doesn’t suffice for you, but only makes you laugh more. Fuck, come on, you have a one page answer just for, what question is this, tell me about yourself, who the fuck has that much to say?

And then you take the other sheets from my hand, and suddenly your curiosity takes over. You continue to point out my over preparation, the possible scenarios I have drafted and applicable answers and even the background files of the interviewers, that is borderline fucking creepy and stalkerish you contest. You are amazed at my crazy, and I am fascinated by your swearing and continuous interjections of fuck, come on as if you possess societal truths I have yet to catch onto.

But you do, you have a sense of unyielding disregard I have yet to learn. You are not perpetually thinking and worried, continuously planning and over-planning. You are comfortable enough to leave in last night’s attire with seemingly obnoxious music and stained clothes and in your own words, don’t give any fucks, for opinions other than your own.

I think of all of this as you conclude your own prying of my papers. Fuck, come on, what kinda interview is this, what are you like doing some fucking tests? I take back my papers from you hastily this time and retort, just an important one. I owe you no explanation I decide, and shuffle my papers in the correct chronological order. I turn my back to you, and lean against the opposite doors with the objective to continue my revision. Yet you decide otherwise and force your will as you would, and continue talking.

I try to silence you but your perpetual profanity is too fucking persistent to ignore. Your amusement over my papers fades quickly and you begin to talk about your own perils and paint what I assume are the pieces of last night. But you don’t paint a tale of sorrow or maybe it’s your tone because your rambled story is one of a girl, unaffected by a date that never showed up but concluded with some raging party, as you describe and some fucking hotter alternative. I laugh at this description and ask you, will you see him again? You shrug and reply, who gives a fuck and continue on with today’s plans as he and yesterday’s events never occurred or have no defining meaning, tossing me another one of your societal truths.

The automated voice declares Commercial Broadway as the next stop, and you mutter your eloquent farewell of fuck gotta go. I nod and watch you push past the incoming herd of commuters. Good luck with your fucking interview, you holler back at me. I watch you for a few seconds more and take in your impolite pushes of crowds as you navigate your way to the stairs. Your strut parallels everything I have analyzed of you, from you unwavering ignorance and unapologetic conduct. I chuckle to myself and return back to my revision. But my focus has slightly changed and suddenly there’s clarity and a sense of I fucking got this as I imagine you would articulate. Not soon after, my stop arrives and I walk up to some fancy building in the core of downtown. One of the interviewers, whose life story I knew before she could even state her name, greets me at the door and notices my stack of papers. Sorry, you won’t be allowed any papers inside the room once we begin. I smile at her, and tell her, of course. I throw the papers at a nearby trash and follow her, thinking of you every step of the way. To the girl on the train because of you, I would go on to succeed and finally conclude a month long charade of endless interviews and for that I want to thank you. Thank you for societal truths and definition of confidence that is perhaps borderline ego. But as you would remind me, who gives a fuck, because people will believe what they want to believe and all we can do, is simply be. Be a relentless force of confidence that does not waver at the expense of self-doubt or irrelevant external opinions. TC mark

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