Jennifer’s alarm shrilled its morning jingle, she jolted up. She felt tired, but promised herself she would relax once she had picked up the olive bread she’d missed while shopping the day prior. Onward she forged, slipping into her clothes and jamming on her shoes. She was hungry, but anxious to get started so she grabbed her purse, skipped the coffee and quietly closed the door. Tom was still fast asleep, oblivious to the urgencies of the morning.
Jennifer saw the subway up ahead, she was reluctant, couldn’t she just walk to the bakery? It was too far; she’d already checked. She descended into the sun deprived station and jumped into the steel tube. It was quiet, she made her way to the empty part of the train where professionals were sitting studiously with their laptops glued to their thighs. An older gentleman across from Jennifer conversed with a woman around the same age as him, maybe his wife. “Looks like it might rain today, Carol.” Carol nodded in return. Why does it seem that older people always talk about the weather? Jennifer moved her attention to the subway map, her destination was Dupont, eight stops away.
The subway started to fill up with more people at each passing stop, until finally Jennifer had a stranger leaning in so close to her she could feel their breath. She was getting uncomfortable; she’d never liked cramped spaces. “We are experiencing a delay due to temmm exhimmm un mmmmm” the conductors voice trailed into a mumble. I don’t remember the last time a delay explanation was audible. I hope we start moving soon. What if, what if… Jennifer didn’t finish her thought, she was flitting from one worry to another. Her shortness of breath. The pang in her chest, significantly close to her heart, or at least where she thought her heart was. It was in fact two inches higher. My arms tingling, isn’t that what happens when you have a stroke? Jennifer tried to take a couple deep breaths. The train began to move again. Jennifer was still tense; by now her shoulders had inched all the way up to the bottom of her ears. I should get off the train she thought. What if we get stuck again…? She toiled with the idea. She watched the door mechanically close, the sliding exit shutting her opportunity for escape, encasing her within a storm of panic. She clenched her fists. Just don’t think about it. Look over there. Where did Carol and that man go? Jennifer was plagued by her confinement and her distractions weren’t working.
I feel sick. The bile slowly rose in Jennifer’s throat. She remembered that time in summer camp when they all sat around a plastic table to share afternoon snack. It was watermelon and it had been cut conveniently into wedges. She distinctly remembered the boy, his blonde mop of hair, his bright blue wind breaker and evidently that he was sick. He projectile vomited over everything— the table, the watermelon, her memories.
That was it, Jennifer heard the chime of the closing door and sprinted through it, desperately shoving past the other occupants of the train. She leapt onto the platform and gasped for breath. Ba bump, ba bump, ba bump, Jennifer clutched her chest and inhaled. Across the platform in large red letters was the word YORKDALE. She had gone five stops further than where she was supposed to be. How did this happen? How did I not notice? Jennifer stomped up the platform stairs and out of the station.
As she stepped onto the sidewalk a large bead of water splattered on her shoulder, followed by a few more, followed by a downpour. Jennifer sighed, at least she wasn’t on the train. When she finally got to the bakery she grabbed the first loaf she saw. She didn’t care what kind it was, she just paid and trekked home. It took a while, but eventually she got to her front door and pushed it open. “Oh you're home!” Tom’s voice called from kitchen “I picked up some bread while you were out.” Jennifer threw off her shoes, puddles congregating on the floor with each footstep. She cast her loaf into the kitchen, not aiming for any particular surface. Tom followed her to the bedroom, confused, it was only three pm.