My Friend

19054_227749500973_2370033_n.jpgI am on the F Train. The intercom says that we have an important announcement from the New York police. “Keep careful watch over your belongings. Protect yourself.” I look down at my backpack between my feet. The intercom starts talking again. “Backpacks are subject to random search by the New York police.”

I’m coming from visiting my friend. She’s in the hospital, in the burn center, not conscious. She’s bravely surviving, surrounded by loved ones and hooked up to sophisticated machines. The man sitting next to me in the subway car interrupts. He’s struggling to stand up as the train slows down. He’s pulling on his leg. We stop at Jay Borough Hall and the doors open. The man can’t get up. He won’t make it to the door in time. 

The man is limping toward the opening. What’s wrong with his leg? The door remains open for him. The intercom says “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher. Please be patient.” He made it. I watch him struggling across the concrete platform, toward the steps up to the daylight. 

It seems like everything must be a cliff-hanger today. Just now, in the famous season of hope – all the pain and suffering is real. Real and nearby. Pain is making its choices. I can’t filter out how fragile we all are. And I wonder what my friend is feeling, in her motionless coma, dreaming beneath the surface of the painful fire. 

She has taken my senses like swooning special effects in a film. I’m drifting with her under the casually violent city. Will this tunnel be ripped open and my loved ones smile brightly in at me? I’m down here sitting in this haunted subway as it disappears into the side of Brooklyn. 

My backpack is on my lap. A Christmas gift is inside. So, as I shoot through this hole to Coney Island – what if I take out this little box and hold it in my hand. I know even before I open it that it is the perfect gift. The gift we all want. That’s right, it’s the cure to pain and suffering. It isn’t a drug. It is the complete cure to death and all the pain that precedes it. It is life. Life in a box. I don’t even have to open it. I know what it is. I can take it to my friend