This is the second installment in a series of vignettes inspired by travelers of the London Underground.
Clad in little shorts and chunky running shoes, two blondes bounce onto the train at Holborn. Between giggles they gossip about friends, family, and co-workers. The biggest worry they have is deciding whether it’s a better deal to rent a flat on a month-to-month basis or with an annual lease. With their stretchy bedazzled tank tops and manicured nails, the money isn’t really a concern. It just sounds like the right thing to say.
Beside them she sits with downcast eyes. Her ankles are swollen and her shoes feel too small. In her lap, she holds onto an oversize bag with a pair of hands that know the pain of a hard day’s work. She remembers being mini-skirt thin with cute sandal-worthy feet. It’s all so fleeting, so easily taken for granted. She’s long past due and out of chances, which makes her wonder if tomorrow will have meaning. Such lofty goals for someone caught in a hollow moment.
The doors slide open and youth slips away.
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With his dark skin and long black beard, he looks different from the rest. Twenty pairs of eyes scan him up and down, but quickly look away. As he takes a seat, shoulders stiffen and brows knot above noses. Alert and nervous, they all hope the next stop is his. To them, the turban he wears can only mean one thing.
He says nothing and sits tall.
– – –
At Notting Hill Gate, every seat is filled with tourists loaded with shopping bags and locals trying to get home. A French couple squeezes through the crowd, she with bright red lips and he with a small dog in his arms. It’s been a long day of judgment and obedience, but the blue ribbon attached to the dog’s collar makes all the effort worthwhile.
The little terrier doesn’t cry, whimper, or fidget. He won today for being the best and all eyes remain on him. Two American tourists resist the urge to reach out and pet him. Suburbanites look up briefly from their newspapers and books, while children point and smile.
The dog is oblivious, but the owner beams with pride. The girl with red lips holds onto the rail, desperate for a seat. She is hungry, exhausted, and has had enough.
No one sees her.
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Note: Project Art Journal will return next Friday.