Pain, My Love, and My Tribe

(Continues from Monday Melted Me)

Are you strong enough to be my man? Cheryl’s question echoes long after the car blasting her song fled. Pain knocks on my heart, reminding me I love him but he wasn’t strong enough then to throw off convention to be with me. And his silence proclaims he’s too weak to speak, too ashamed to confess what he’s done.

A train clatters by under my feet vibrating the ground. It’s the 6:15 express making stops at Harlem 125th Street then Cortlandt where I had a studio apartment walking distance from the Hudson River. Memory pounds me, mashing me into a molded seat where my fingers grip this book. All the usual train smells filter into my nose grounding the memory—urine, burnt coffee, sweat, cold pizza and recycled air. Bits of conversations interrupt my reading as first my seatmate and then the woman in the row in front of me take calls on their cells.

“Yes, I’m on the 6:15. It gets into Garrison at 7:10 pm. Uh-huh, yes, no–oh I don’t know. Let’s figure it out when I’m off the train. See you in a bit.”

My eyes scan the pages drinking in the story, seeing its plot, playing it out inside my mind. The train fades away. I ride with her, my thighs gripping the saddle as I bend low urging a cantankerous unicorn to run faster. For his part, he grumbles complaints in our mind. But our thoughts drown his out. Get us back to our friends, our tribe. Back to the society turning on them so we can turn the tide. Our sword will save them. These dispatches wouldn’t. We discard the leather scrip, tossing it aside as we gallop.

I miss my stop, but I have a monthly pass lying face up on my thigh, so the conductor leaves me alone. I ride back to NYC city falling into and through each line until there is no her or I. We’re one, and we’re riding towards a massacre on a shimmering steed whose silver hooves chime. The snow falls, soft and silent, blanketing a gray world.

Outside, the train pulls into Grand Central and more passengers board for the trip into back to Westchester and beyond. Another butt occupies the bench seat next to me and slides over to make room for a third passenger. We sit cheek to cheek, but I turn the page lost in the story.

Cheryl Crow asks again, Are you strong enough—but the song cuts off as we crest a rise. Somewhere outside the story, the conductor announces the stops but his voice comes from far off, and I ignore him. I’m with her, my heroine. And we’re strong enough to face a tribe called pain. Society told me love always prevails.

Find the earlier parts of this series here.

If you missed a part, worry not. This will be available from Amazon in 2017.
The adventure continues tomorrow.

For the November Notes Writing Challenge hosted by  Sarah Doughty of Heartstring Eulogies and Rosema of A Reading Writer.