The boy awoke, listlessly, without stirring; a mere blinking of his eyes until they agreed to remain open and seeing. He lay still with his head on the pillow, his dreams drifting up and away in locks of vapor and mist. The room was dark. The pale early morning light seeped in from behind the shut blue curtains, falling in rays and shafts about the bed. The boy watched the tiny dust particles drifting lazily in the light, unconcerned with whatever his business was.
The boy was sitting inside an elevated train. He was dressed for the day with a satchel atop his lap. The seats in the train were arranged in two rows, facing each other, along the sides of the car. Above the seats were square windows, which were no more than simple panes of glass, rubber-framed and un-openable. Few people were inside. A couple seats away from the boy, to his right, sat a young mother with her daughter, who drank apple juice from a sippy-cup and sat with her legs swinging over the edge of her seat, her feet dangling inches away from the floor. In the row across from the boy sat only two people: a blonde girl, to his left, of about the same age of the boy, who was deeply engaged in her phone, from which a red cord ran to a set of red headphones on her rhythmically bobbing head; and an old man, to his right, dressed in a khaki suit accompanied by a khaki fedora, who read a folded-up newspaper with a face that became ever more aggravated.
The train screeched down the tracks, and the people inside rocked and swayed with the train. The boy gazed out the window beside him, watching the early afternoon city under the blue and cloudless sky; the sun was behind him, and all the buildings slipped by in a pleasant melange of tan and gray and burgundy. In a window of one of the buildings, the boy saw, for a moment—an instant—a woman. She supported her head with her left hand, the elbow of which was propped up on the open window's ledge; her right hand held a crimson mug. Her short brown hair fluttered softly in the wind. And then she was gone, for the train was turning. For a moment, they looked at each other, but he knew she did not see him. To the woman, he didn't exist—there was only the train.
To the woman, he didn't exist—there was only the train.
The train was turning to the left and all the cars slightly tilted and leaned on their left side. The boy felt it in his stomach, and as he was wondering what the woman's mug contained, another train came roaring up on the opposite tracks. The old man turned around and glanced at it. It's glass and metallic body filled up the windows across from the boy. He'd seen this happen many times, but never like this, while both trains were turning down a bend in the tracks. It was moving very quickly. He looked into the quick passing windows; the other train was just as meagerly populated, but the seats were differently arranged. Then, through the window, above the other train, the boy saw a thin streak of blue. Sky blue. The cars were tilting further back, the blue streak above the other train grew, and the feeling in the boy's stomach rose to his chest. The feeling was neither painful nor sickening—it was odd; it was almost like a tickle. And time slowed. The boy felt himself falling, felt them all falling. But to the woman in the window, it would be only the train falling.
Gravity was loosening its grip. The boy felt his weight being lifted away into nothing.
Gravity was loosening its grip. The boy felt his weight being lifted away into nothing. His satchel was beginning to hover above his lap. He looked at the girl sitting in the row of seats opposite him; her headphone cord was rising in the air, along with her blonde hair. The old man's fedora was up and off his head. The mother and child simply stared at the growing streak of blue; the apple juice was sliding up the sides of the sippy-cup and out the mouthpiece in little orbs and ribbons. And in that moment—in that instant—the boy loved them all. It was a love wholly unconditional and unbreakable. He wanted to hold all of them close, to tell them what he felt, and how they were all bound in this one moment, forever inseparable. He thought of the woman looking out the window. Though she wasn't bound to him the way the others were, though she'll never know what he felt, he loved the woman just as much. In her idleness and possible boredom, she was beautiful. He wondered what her name was.
In time, the sky ripped through the metal and glass of the other train and fully bloomed, blue and wonderful, in the window opposite the boy, while they all drifted lazily in the light.
Demitri Acosta is a young writer, born and raised on the north side of Chicago. He spends the majority of his time daydreaming and cleaning cat hair off his clothes with a lint roller.
Illustration by Keit Osadchuk.