Came to me whilst sitting on a subway judging people...
The doors slide shut, and I raise my eyes only briefly to see the new entrants. A young lad with music blaring sits down next to me, and sighing, I shuffle away, glad when the roaring sounds of the subway echo in my ears again. He’s chewing gum with his mouth open wide, and tapping his foot wildly, making the seat shake to his rhythm. Pulling a bottle from his bag, wrapped in brown paper, he takes a drink. I’m hit with the offensive smell of aniseed, making my cheeks blush red with irritation.
Looking away from him, I notice the woman opposite. She’s just as bad, with her leopard-print leggings and non-existent t-shirt; spewing forth her breasts with absent-minded exhibitionism. I pale, wondering if they’re going to fall out as she leans forward and straightens the buckle on her high-heels. They don’t budge, thankfully.
The only other person in the carriage, the last interesting distraction from the dreary rocking back and forwards and looking out the windows at pitch black walls, is an elderly woman. She looks kindly, with just a little too much make up and a conservative blue cardigan, and a head of curly white hair. I smile at her, and she nods back at me, content.
Sometimes I wonder what the world is coming to, and this is one such time. People, so caught up in their own little worlds, unconcerned with things we used to care about. Modesty, decorum, courtesy… They seem to have become redundant. Back in my day, only the uneducated would act so irresponsibly and only a hooker would dress so inappropriately. Back in the good old days…
Suddenly I’m aware I’m falling. Spinning, rather, and an awful heat sears my face. The carriage has gone dark, and pain shakes as I hit the floor. No, the ceiling. My neck’s twisted, pressed against the wall, and I feel an awful weight on my back, the heat still roaring, licking at my bare skin.
There’s shouting, and I see moving shapes, but my eyes feel tired, aching, and the moving shapes are blurred. I recognise the elderly woman, pushing herself up from the floor across the carriage. Managing to lift my head, I spot the other two. The woman is screaming, she’s on fire and frantically patting herself, and the boy is helping, quick to his feet when he spots her distress. Not that anyone could miss her wails.
It’s only now that I consider myself, the huge mass of metal, twisted and protruding from a tear in the carriage wall, having landed square on my back. Then the pain kicks in. The fire is gaining steam, it’s all around me, paint melting from the walls and sparks flying in from outside. Woozy, blood drips from my mouth onto the ceiling.
“Help…” I croak, my strength fading. The young boy is quickly beside me, his stick-thin arms fighting through the roaring heat to lift the metal away. It doesn’t budge. Blisters quickly burst from his skin as the scantily-clad woman joins him, adding her strength to the effort. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t work. They call to the elderly woman, who’s finally risen to her feet.
She turns, looking at me in horror, and I can see she’s bleeding from her head. The flames from above me illuminate her face, and as she turns away, I notice how cruel the lines on her face look. The door to the next carriage slams shut, leaving me with the two people I’d judged so prematurely. I know it’s hopeless, but I’m glad in a way that it’s happened like this. With my one good hand and the last of my strength, I tug on the young man’s shirt, and he bends down quickly, a heavy look in his eyes.
He starts to apologise but I stop him, my mind full of better times, better places, and beckon to the woman. Kneeling down, they both cower beside me as the flames burrow down and start biting into my skin, my clothing burning to dust. “In my day,” I start, my eyes beginning to close, “I could have drunk you under the table.” Looking down at my half-disintegrated jumper, I smile up at the woman, “and I’ve still got better boobs than you.”