Friday, October 21, 2011

Morning commute

A young woman, coming down the steps of her apartment building, turns to see her cat peering at her from the top step.

A baby sits on her mother’s lap. In the seat ahead of them a woman is wearing a red hat with a long tassle. The baby can’t resist grabbing the dangling string.

A man, going for a morning jog, passes a woman he sees daily but has not yet mustered to courage to address.

A father walks with his son to the bus stop. They are on their way to the boy’s first day in a new school.


The woman races to catch the bus and reach the office on time. But she worries about the cat – which is an indoor pet and which has never spent the day outside. She hopes it won’t rain.

The mother apologizes profusely, returns the hat to the other passenger and turns the baby to face the back of the bus. The baby begins to cry.

The jogger stops and busies himself adjusting the laces on his shoe, glancing up to see the woman walking down the street toward him. He ties and unties the laces, hoping to untie his tongue as well.

The boy silently follows his father. The third school in as many years. His stomach aches.


The woman sits on the bus, looking at the picture of her cat on her phone and debating whether she could take an extended lunch break and come back home. She imagines life without her cat and is embarrassed by a sudden rush of tears.

The mother and baby get off the bus, 10 blocks from their stop. Both are red in the face. The baby is soon distracted by a passing garbage truck. The mother’s arms start to ache.

The jogger stands as the woman approaches. He smiles at her and opens his mouth to say hello. She looks at him, looks through him, and turns her head before he can speak.

The father leads the way into the principal’s office and talks privately for a few moments with the school administrator. The boy is given his schedule and directed to his first class.

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