On the train

cta“I saw him on the train, a passing glance. Something not immediately obvious caught my attention. He was sitting upright, hands clasped over a small leather satchel, opposite me. Eyes closed. Peaceful.

Dozing? No. Meditating? Perhaps.

The sparsely populated train moved along, and yellow sunlight, permitted entry by the passing buildings, glanced and sporadically coated the metal surfaces.

I noticed, at first without concern, and then with a rising sense of unease, that as the train tumbled and bounced down the track, that he was still. Perfectly still. We all rocked and shuttled with the movement of the carriage and yet he did not. He was a dead body in the casket, painfully static as we desperately scan for any sign of movement. As if he was floating above this mild mechanical bull as we knocked about on the bumpy ride, though he was undoubtedly sitting, and certainly alive, but frozen. For three stops he remained, lids closed, no expression on his long face, no movement, resisting physics and any established reality that I knew. Then, his stop approaching, he returned, eyes opened, and his hips and shoulders and head began to move with the train again, as if becoming reconnected with the rest of the world. He did not see me staring. And when the station pulled into view, he stood, brushed down his short coat, and walked away.

To this day, I have never understood what I saw.”

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