Fiction Friday: [Toeing the Line]

Just the thought of standing too close to the platform edge scared her. She’d heard the stories, although rare, of some demented psycho pushing a fellow commuter onto the tracks. There’s no way to survive getting hit by a New York City subway train. No way.

Across the platform a woman stands so close to the edge that both feet are on the bumpy yellow strip. The yellow strip you’re supposed to stand behind. Behind. How does she not know this?

The sound of the metal beast nearing causes a tightness in her chest and a shortness of her breath. As much as she didn’t want to die via subway collision, she didn’t want to witness it either.

Regardless, she couldn’t tear her eyes away. Away from the calm that never left the woman’s face. Her nonchalance as she teetered on the brink of death. She couldn’t comprehend the woman’s bravery. Couldn’t imagine what it was like not to flinch in the face of danger.

But she wanted to. She wanted to understand. She wanted to know what it was like to live, for one moment, not drowning in fear.

Screeching rocks her back to reality--surrounded by commuters plugging their ears against the grating of wheel to track. She watches as the woman, head aloft, disappears into the crowded car. She’s gone. Lost within the sea of black wool coats and free newspapers.

The intercom crackles above and, through the static, she knows her train will be arriving soon. Heart thumping and mind racing, she makes a decision her mind hasn’t quite registered. The platform vibrates under her feet as the train growls into the station blowing her hair back and away from her face. Startled and confused, she looks down. A sense of hope whirls around her--mixing with the gust from the train--as she finds her right foot firmly planted across the yellow line.