Subway Reflections

She was in the corner of the subway car. There, in the cluster of bodies that were all clawing for space, she should have remained unnoticed. After all, she appeared to be dressed no differently than all the other worker bees that rode the train religiously after a long day’s work.
But she was different.
She was not pushing and shoving or elbowing her way around the subway car. Instead, she carried the resounding posture of defeat. She stood in the corner, near the door, unmoving and oblivious to the action around her. She did not seem to notice the flurry of bodies that rushed past her, moving in and out of the train. She did not seem to hear or be bothered by the loud thump-thump-thump emanating from the headphones of the person standing next to her. The foul, pungent smell of summer and sweat that assailed the subway and affected all and sundry did nothing to move her frozen stare.
Instead, she remain affixed to her little corner of her own little world, and I saw from where I was that tears were rolling down her face. Her pain stared back so violently that I felt a cut in my own heart. I tried to smile at her, maybe to make myself feel better, but she would have none of it. She was inside her own pain, and nothing and no one was coming in or out.
As I departed the train at my stop, I turned to look at her one last time. I felt obligated to somehow reach out to her, but she almost seemed comfortable in her state of despair. All I know is that I left the subway car feeling as though the world had suddenly fallen on my shoulders.
“And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” ~ Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye