Charlynn Trish Ben, 19, Student (New York City US)


The Commute

Illustration by Chelsea O Byrne

Illustration by Chelsea O Byrne


There wasn’t much to say about the walk from the apartment to the subway station. It was routine, etched into memory, repeated every single day. A woman just passed me with a cigarette, a cloud oozes out of her mouth onto my direction. I dislike cigarette smoke. It irritates my nose. There are smokers everywhere, around the corners they slowly kill their lungs while their voices become a little raspier during every inhale. It sticks to everything. The particles grasping upon your hair, sticking to your new jacket, everything. I always hold my breath as if I could easily evade the little monsters, its worth a try.

I clamber onto the subway, I take a seat and then I observe. The subway is a great platform to observe. I don’t like reading too much on the subway as the lulling of the train car makes it hard for me to read and eventually leads to a headache. But observing gives me no aches whatsoever. In a city so dense and diverse everything and everyone is a new specimen to discover. A couple of these specimen over the years have peaked my interest, like this man who was taking a quick nap in which his mouth was in a perpetual state of downwardness. There was also a woman who drew her eyebrows so long it reached her temples, taking the eyebrow trend to a whole new level.

Have you ever wondered if someone observed you? Being in such a small space, careening in the underground world of the city forces strangers to look at one another. Like what did they think of the outfit you wore? Or if they see the massive planet known as a pimple occupying your chin?

In the city that never sleeps, everyone is in dreamland in the early morning commute. The students are taking naps instead of cramming in material for their test that morning. The construction worker bobbing his head to and fro, his helmet resting on his knee. The overworked business people trying to squeeze in a few z’s as they stand, their bodies swaying rhythmically to the movement of the train. I am not exempt from this infectious sleeping mist that creeps along the underground. I wonder, does the train conductor ever want to succumb to this enticing world of dreamland?