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Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?


Cinematic pan out

as I run to the train

fleetingly wondering if I packed my inhaler,

weighed down by textbooks

and the nagging backwards pull of tardiness.

I n s l o w  m o t i o n

the last passenger climbs the steps and is swallowed by the metal mouth.

What about me?

I have my ticket.

Bought it online

so I could be on time.


Dramatic close up

as I grab the handle of the silver door.

It's cold with November kisses

yet I can still feel the pink warmth of human flesh that lingers there.

I lingered too.

That's why I'm late.

A swell of orchestral violins and cellos

(Medoza's Theme: Always One Second Behind)

as I beat sense into its skin

trying to grab someone's attention .


A montage of faces of passengers

as I am dragged along, legs following someone else's orders

stop. go. Run faster. There is still hope.

They crescendo, but the violins have dropped away, the cellos only a tremolo,

background buzz for sneers.

Or are they pitied sighs?


Zoom back to me,

setting the beast free

grabbing at a fistful of hair

molding curses from puffs of air

and the credits roll away on the rail.


        The safest way to travel is by train. A train is solid and familiar, never straying from the old

rails it has followed for years. There is something very comforting about this mechanic certainty.

Something reliable, like a trusty grandfather clock. Maybe that explains why trains always arrive.

They might not always be on time, but they still come. In that sense, I'm like a train too: better

late than never.

        But certainty, reliability, does not equate docility. A great portion of a train's safety is linked

to the calculated brute force, the sheer strength it exudes. Like snakes, they smooth their

powerful frames, fast and deliberate. Trains are cold and unforgiving, moving ever forward.

They are tenacious and stubborn, not willing to stop or slow down for anyone.

        “Get out of my way,” their whistles scream into the wind, the sound never lost as hills jump

out of the way  and blades of grass bend to a bow. If Mother Nature moves away from a train,

what chance do I stand in its wake.


How to Survive Freshman Year: A Mother's Advice

1. Dress warmly. When Winter hits, put away all dresses, shorts, skirts and sleeveless shirts so as

not to be tempted by them.

2. Eat well. Eat often.


4. Be friendly and confident.

5. Keep all appointments you make. This includes train rides, homework deadlines, and being on

time for meeting, classes, and work.

6. Manage time so you can be more productive.

7. Keep a book of all passwords, important phone numbers, and other miscellaneous information

including your Social Security and credit card details. This is in case electronics fail.

8. Make sure you know the whereabouts of this book at all times.

9. Keep your inhaler handy.

10. Spend money. That's what it's for.

11. Call home often.

12. Be a good girl.


        The grandest way to travel is by train. Or at least, it was once upon a time. A time when

elegant, long-necked ladies wore gowns and laughed brightly as sturdy white gloved men helped

them into gilded compartments. White gloves would get too dirty on the SEPTA. I think it

flattened chivalry like a medieval penny.

        In films, the type of people who travel on trains always get where they are going just in time

to pant their way onto the platform and relax as they sink into the grimy seats. They wear pea

coats and leather shoes and have perfectly rosy cheeks and noses brought upon by a mix of their

frantic rush to keep schedule and the chilly breath of the outdoors.

        But I don't make schedules all the time. Maybe it's because I don't wear leather shoes.


        After dinner, Mr. Ball pulled me aside and kneeled down so that he was eye level with me.

“Do you like trains?” he asked, breath laced with coffee too expensive to be served as an

afterthought to dinner. I nodded my head and he smiled, the skin of his face stretching like the

beige leather of his La-Z-Boy sofa, “come with me?” he asked, already headed towards the back

of the living room.

        His well furnished home was a maze only he knew the way through, flicking on the light

and starting the descent down the stairs, “I like trains too. I have a whole room for them.” He

did. The basement was dimly lit and housed only the twin of the couch upstairs and a long lamp

that sentineled over the room. But that didn't matter, because directly in the center of the room

was a large rectangular table covered in Mr. Ball's model train tracks.

        As a child my sister and I often played with a small wooden train track on table covered in

green felt. Those tracks housed trains that were no more than penny candy colored blocks that

connected with magnets. These trains were metallic, with spider thin details and authentic

whistles that would shoot abrupt burst of steam. Mr. Ball was just as enchanted as I was, his eyes

bright like the lights on the head of the black locomotive.

        The dirtiest way to travel is by train. Each car has its own distinct smell: cigarette smoke,

sweat, cheap, heavily applied cologne. When I sit down, I feel myself stick to the seat, my person

sealed to the cracked material of the chair by layers of filth and some mysteriously viscous

substance. When I am breathed out onto the station, I have the urge to soak in a tub full of soapy

water, just to see all of the grime fall away and float to the top of the tub.

        The tunnel that connects the two sides of the Bryn Mawr train station smells perpetually and

predominately of must. Usually, it propels me to bound quickly up the concrete steps, but today,

I stand inside Lady Station and breathe in her essence. She is made up with white paint in a vain

attempt to hide her wrinkles, stones crumbling with age and wear. Paint chips off in uneven


        Before I left for Thanksgiving, I came upon a sign in the tunnel. In pencil; 'NARNIA' with

an arrow pointed to the campus. Ducking back inside the tunnel after break I looked for the sign,

my backpack heavy with snacks mom had packed, even after “I'm on an unlimited meal plan”s

and “I don't want to gain any more weight”s and “where will I keep all of this”s and one quiet “I

love you.”

        Eyes peeled, nose cold, I searched for some reassurance that by coming back I wasn't

missing out on anything else. That my Narnia was in Bryn Mawr. That breaking away from

home, breaking away with normalcy, or missing trains didn't mean I had to miss this experience


        A new layer of goo had been swiped thickly over the sign. It was gone. Delicate pencil

stood no chance. Resigned to the weight of school, I looked away from the wall and crossed the

fine line between one home and the other.

Breaking Project Author/Creator: 
Medoza Ameen