Friday Fiction -- On the Red Line, Part 325 Sep 2020
The noise inside the train shifted. First, a whoosh as the train left the tunnel. Then, the click-clack of the wheels dipped beneath the rush of wind. From the sounds alone, the four passengers knew that they were traveling above ground now.
Mia restarted the conversation with “So, where were you two when the weirdness began? I thought that since we’ll be working together…”
“Why do you assume that?” David interrupted.
Sakari and Mia turned to David, confused. “Huh?”
“Why wouldn’t we?” Mia continued. “We’ve all been summoned to the same place. We all want answers to the same questions. You just admitted we’re all in the same boat.”
David asked, “How small is that boat you’re imagining?”
Mia opened her mouth to answer, but Sakari jumped in to go first. “I was in Paulownia Square by the Phoenix Fountain. I was supposed to meet someone there.”
“Someone who looks like my sister?” Mia asked.
Cara looked up from her phone. “What about me?”
Sakari chuckled and nervously rubbed the back of his neck. “Oh. Yeah. Anyway, I didn’t see her. Don’t remember too much after that. Maybe I passed out? I know it rained, then it was dark, and I woke up in the grass nearby. That was all before the text and meeting David in the subway station.”
Mia shared her story. “Cara and I met for coffee like we usually do. A little café on Crystal Plaza. Next thing we know, it’s raining, and we’re on the roof of the parking garage across the street. We took cover pretty quick, then got that text as soon as the rain stopped. We decided to try the subway and here we are.”
Mia and Sakari looked at David. “Well?” Mia asked.
“C’mon. You’re the only one left,” Sakari encouraged him.
David sighed and twirled a strand of hair around his finger. He wasn’t the type to lay all of his cards on the table. Yet he figured that, this time, he couldn’t avoid answering. Eventually, he said, “Nothing major really. Chilling in the hood. Shooting some b-ball with my homies. Course this mean gang had to roll up and start talking smack. Memory’s fuzzy after that. Next I know, I’m getting rained on in some random back alley off of 12th. Nowhere close to my turf, officer.”
Mia blinked twice. David – a skinny, clean-cut boy wearing a light blue polo shirt. A glee club singer? Sure. An inner-city basketball player? “I don’t believe you.”
“Believe whatever you want. It’s none of your business anyway.”
Mia walked over to David. She leaned over him, gripping the back of his seat with one hand and the pole beside him with the other. She stared directly into his hazel eyes. “If you think you’re being funny, stop it.” She spoke faster as her anger grew. “I don’t care how much of a punk you are. I’m looking for connections between our stories. You know, clues. But if you don’t cooperate, nobody’s getting answers.”
“Would you kindly get out of my face?” David asked.
Sakari didn’t like where Mia was taking this. He told her, “Hey! Mia! It’s alright. David’s cool. We can work together. Promise. Just calm down and back off, okay?”
“Mia, what time is it?” Cara asked.
Mia turned to her sister. “What?”
“Your phone – what time does it say it is?”
Mia scrunched her face. She was terribly confused. “Where is this…?”
Cara stepped toward the group, getting as close as she could while holding onto her pole. “David, Sakari, take out your phones. Tell me what time they’re showing.”
David and Sakari slid their phones out of their pockets. Mia let go of David’s seat and stood back so she could fish hers out of her brown purse.
“12:14,” Sakari read from his phone.
“AM or PM?”
“12:13pm,” David read.
Mia did the same. “12:15pm.”
“And mine says 12:13pm,” Cara said as she slid her phone back into her purse.
“Where are you going with this?” David asked, genuinely curious.
“We have…” Sakari counted silently on his fingers. “…two hours and forty-five minutes to get to Coldessi Park. Don’t worry, Cara. We’ve got plenty of time.”
It wasn’t the deadline that made Cara worry. “Guys, it’s quarter after noon. Noon.” No one reacted. They still hadn’t caught on. “It’s midday. Where’s the sun?”
Everyone looked out the windows. All they could see was the black sky and dots of street lights flying past them. Even under the thickest clouds, the city was never this dark at midday. The difference between their clocks and their surroundings was now too stark to ignore.
The train slowed and the recording announced, “Now approaching Dalton Avenue. Please stand clear of the doors.”
Inspired, Sakari stood and moved over to the train doors, grabbing poles along the way to steady himself.
“What are you doing?” Mia asked as he passed by.
With a huge grin, he answered, “I’m gonna find the sun.”
Cara replied, “Wait. Kid, I was being rhetorical. I didn’t mean for you to…”
The train stopped. “Arrived at Dalton Avenue,” the recording said as the train doors opened. Sakari jumped onto the platform and jogged away. “Next stop: Sable Heights.”
Mia leaned out the open train doors and yelled, “Sakari! Sakari!”
“Now boarding Red Line to Nielsen Quay. Next stop: Sable Heights.”
Cara stood beside Mia and called out, “Hey Sakari. Wrap it up quick, ya hear? Else you’re gonna get left behind.”
“I know. I know,” Sakari answered somewhere in the distance.
Mia shouted, “No! You get back here and…!”
Cara grabbed Mia’s shoulders and gently pulled her away from the doors. “Mia, enough. You’re wigging out, and it’s not helping.”
Mia jerked out of her sister’s grip. “I’m not wigging out!”
“You could still take it down a few notches.”
Mia crossed her arms, still fuming.
“A party can stand a bit of snark and dense, so leave them be.” Looking over her shoulder at David, Cara added, “No offense.”
David said, “None taken. Couldn’t have said it better myself.”
Mia told her sister, “This isn’t Dungeons and Dragons.”
“Would it kill you to treat it like it was for a minute?” Cara replied. “Look. We’re not in any immediate danger. Thanks to the train, it’s only a matter of time before we reach our destination. All we should do now is enjoy the ride. Trust me. The subway doesn’t get any more peaceful than this.”
Mia was quiet for a few moments. Her shoulders gradually relaxed. “You’re right,” she finally said, no longer angry. She turned to David and continued, “I shouldn’t have snapped at you like that. I’m sorry.”
“Apology accepted,” he replied.
©2020 Joyce Lewis. All rights reserved.