By Adrienne Pilon
Sophie hadn’t meant to go this far on the train. When her stop came, she just sat there. She couldn’t manage to gather her purse and backpack, get off and walk the seven blocks to her cousin’s house. That was maybe 15 minutes ago. Now she couldn’t make herself stand up, get off at the next stop, and take the train back in the other direction. Sophie didn’t want to go, but she had to, had to get off, go to her cousin’s apartment for the weekend, a weekend that promised to be one of the worst and longest of her life. Instead, she sat with her purse clutched in her lap. She looked out the window at the gray day and then down at her purse. Every so often she put a hand inside of it, and reached out for the small, zippered satin pouch that sat at the bottom, and felt through the fabric for the roll of cash that sat there, a fat little purse inside the purse, $20 bills all layered inside one another, cocooned there. It was all she would need for the weekend and a little more. But what if she just kept on going? What if she stopped somewhere else, all the way to the end of Queens? She could find a cheap place to live, find a job doing something that didn’t seem hard, like working at a McDonald’s, somewhere she could eat and do her work and then leave. No homework, no getting up too early or staying up too late. She could just go to work and then maybe go to the library and read what she wanted to read for a change. What if she just disappeared for a while (a short while, or a medium while?) and didn’t have to tell anyone anything? No covering up, no trying so hard all the time? It wasn’t realistic, she knew that. Still, what if, what if, what if? rolled through her brain in time with the train.
In a couple of hours it would be dark. She had to make a move. Her cousin would be waiting, wondering, and calling.
But there Sophie remained, purse in her lap, frozen in her seat. The next stop, she told herself, the next stop, and I’ll get up.
Adrienne Pilon is a teacher, writer and editor. Her work can be found at The Furious Gazelle, BoomerLitMag, Scary Mommy, and elsewhere. She lives in North Carolina with her family.