Short | Meditating Man

It’s the second time I’ve sat next to him on the subway. The D train rolls forward but we move backwards. My leather secondhand, designer bag matches his winter coat perfectly - cut from the same cloth. 

The first time I sat next to him I strained my eyes to the left to confirm he was meditating. Forefinger and thumb almost touching, barely kissing at the prints. I couldn’t fathom how, in the madness of the commutes, the screeching metal wheels against rusty tracks, and young adults just released from the tethers of school, screaming, he was stoic and focused in the darkness shaded by his weightless eyelids. I wasn’t sure if he was meditating or simply enlightened. 

I am seated next to him for the second time. We are in the same seats, facing in the opposite direction of the trajectory of the train. Now I am sure he is meditating.  Same jacket, same position, same prints barely kissing. Silver Bose headphones cover his ears, drowning out the noise from the day and his commute. I imagine he’s listening to the humming vibrations of a singing bowl.  Chanting enchantingly. 

Today is different. There are daisies between his legs, leaning left, grazing his inner thigh.

I imagine he’s bringing them home to his partner who waits patiently seated in a plush red velvet chair with gold trim. Her hair is stick straight like uncooked spaghetti and as dark as night. It glistens in the dim light of the small room where they typically read together. The rug, shaggy and comfortable, is crowded with pillows, thoughtlessly strewn about. Their randomness brings her comfort. It’s the one place where she allows mayhem to exist within the four walls of their tiny New York City apartment. 

He’s had a hard day at work where he runs a large team of tech savvy millennials building websites for clients who are extremely demanding. Stress doesn’t consume him. He knows better. The meditation centers him. The chanting guides him home to his love. His love awaits, a daisy surprise in her future. 

Short | Backward

He told her to stop looking back. He said if she kept doing that she would walk into a pole. Isn’t that what the past is like sometimes? Hard, cold, steel metal that can stop you mid-step? She lives there. It’s dark and it’s out of her control. Her plan to escape isn’t something physical. It’s a mental blueprint that weaves and winds through day dreams and a brighter, warm future.

Warm like the heat that beams down while lying in the sun. Warmth that entices microscopic salty beads to form at her hair line. They drip down from the edge of her amber eyes to the lip of her pale, sun bitten ears. It’s like a tiny maze in there; a world of its own. Her locks are strewn among wispy blades of the greenest Central Park grass. She knows tiny bugs are crawling on her tendrils but she’s learning to ignore the small things. 

Her mantra. Breathe out the past and inhale the future. Look at the pole and walk beyond the structure. She passes it and is so focused on the beyond that she misses the in between. 

All around her are moments of love, laughter, and growth. There is change that goes unnoticed. Instead of embracing its presence, she ignores the present. 

The present. It’s right now. It just passed and passed again. This moment goes unappreciated and its competitors are not now but before and after. 

Don’t look back, she reminds herself.  You’re not going that way. 

Short | Shelter

There was a slash on her left shoulder. Her skin was discolored and the varying shades of pink defined the depth of the knife. It was winter and she wore a distressed white tank top covered by a red and black moth eaten, woven wool cardigan. The shoulder of her sweater crept down her arm; pulling the curtain back to showcase her scar. Her sliders weren’t meant to be trendy but simply to give the bottom of her feet a protective sole. White socks attempted to keep her feet warm while she scuffed from car to car telling her story and begging for money. The pants she wore sagged loosely mimicking her sad eyes. There were red beads strung around her neck. I wondered if she owned them her entire life or if she found them in the street and gifted them to herself. I hope they made her feel good. When people dropped change in her crinkled, dirt smothered cup, she looked deep in to their eyes and thanked them.

She told her story. The one where someone moved a knife slowly down her arm while threatening to steal her belongings. She was staying at a shelter. Now she doesn’t feel safe in shelters.

Her feet slid slowly along as if she were being dragged, body limp and limber. There was something elegant about the way she moved her arm, holding the cup, in and out as she tried to grab the attention of zombified internet obsessives. I wondered what people would do if they had no where else to look but at her.

She is a human being and she, from her story, was suffering and needed help. She needed shelter.