The Commute

Chelsea boarded the train at the station, as she’d done hundreds of times before. Perhaps thousands. She considered that it might not be good for her mental health to dwell on exactly how many times she had gone through these exact motions. An impressive statistic can quickly become a depressing one when the viewing angle changes slightly.

As the doors close and the train starts moving, she slumped down in her seat. When her better-off relatives acted shocked that she didn’t have a car, she rationalized her dependence on public transport by saying that it gives her an opportunity to get work done while she’s traveling. That was the theory, anyway. In practice she mostly watched YouTube on her phone or played the latest mobile game.

That particular morning had been a bit of a rush, and she felt relieved to have made it on time to catch this train. She had snoozed her alarm a few times, and when she finally got out of bed and let the dog out he had taken forever to do his business. As she opened up Facebook, she idly wondered why the dog, a rescue named Chesterton who looked like he contained mostly terrier genes, seemed to know the days she was running late and take the most amount of time. This thought reminded her that she had shoved her breakfast, a packet of strawberry Pop-Tarts, into her backpack. She pulled it out and began munching.

As she started on the second pastry, the train gave a shudder and a lurch. With a slight shriek of metal-on-metal, the wheels left the tracks as the train hurtled into the air.

Having finished her breakfast, Chelsea put in her earbuds and began catching up on her videos. She was really into makeup tutorials at the moment. A few of the younger passengers stared out of the windows in glee as the train crested a largeish hill. From inside it almost seemed as if it were skimming the tops of the trees, though in reality it was a decent distance above them.

Chelsea was deep into her third video — an attractive young woman demonstrating the correct usage of cosmetic products she received for free but which would cost the average consumer over a hundred dollars an ounce — when the train touched back down in preparation for entering the city. She paused the video, knowing that she’d lose her connection when the train entered the tunnel, and exhaled slowly. Soon she’d be at work.

As the press of humanity jostled and bumped up the escalator and through the crosswalks, Chelsea dreamed of the day when she could be free.

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