Synaesthesia Magazine Cities - Page 15

I sit, unnoticed. Or perhaps noticed, but not thought of. Visible invisibility. A small spot in the wall. An extra piece of furniture; seen but unregistered. Eyes pass right over, engaged momentarily and gone just as fast. I stand, stretch, pull together the trappings of myself. Coat. Scarf. Gloves. Bag. Each a carefully selected piece of my city facade. Each constructed to maximize “do-not-approach” like a brightly colored insect in the wild.

The station is full of people at this hour, and as I descend I can feel the world close around me. The city above, the workings below. Carefully engineered to catapult you into the future by minute intervals. People mill about with determined aimlessness. A casual disinterest in those around them, in their surroundings. Pulled into their own worlds, tethered by wires in their ears, electronics in their hands, voices on the other end of the earth captured, contained within.

The air is an invisible hand tugging at my clothes, my hair. The vacuum of space after the train departs.

Mind the gap.

I stare it down, minding. Thinking. Where does the gap go, when the train departs? Is there a space still there, a gap between nothingness and the platform? I peer over the edge, toes on the yellow line. The border between this life and the imaginary existence of the train. There seems, to me, an almost imperceptible border between this platform and the next. I stare across, transfixed by the humanity across the way. They blatantly ignore the existence of the opposite platform. Yet I can feel their eyes regard the people across.

Do they think of us? Do they see the opposite wall of humanity, each stare blank and vapid? We are consumed by the wait. Transfixed by the glowing sign. The next train will arrive, as if by magic, in a set number of moments. Instants sliced and diced to create meaningless intervals. This train will arrive in four minutes. The next train will arrive in twelve. There is no difference, and yet it makes all the difference.

Those eight minutes decide your fate, do they not? Miss this train and there will be another. Catch that train, but miss the connection. Take this train and there will be a thousand other souls, all ignoring each other with the due diligence that the city holds. Mustn’t seem interested in the sea of humanity around us. To be invested is to lose oneself in the gears and cogs of everyday life. Take the next train and there will be no one aboard, and the silence will deafen you.

There is safety in numbers, and still no guarantee of safety. This is the way of things in this city.

Ashley Nicholson is an American gladly living outside her homeland. Not only exploring the world, she is exploring new literature and styles of writing. She is working on her Masters in Creative Writing in London, with a focus on short fiction.