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Coming of Age Teens & Young Adult

"The one good thing about hitting rock bottom; the only other way is up."


A rush of air escaped your lips, quicker than you can stifle them. You hardly noticed the few that glanced over in your direction, nor how your grip slackened around your backpack. If the train hadn't abruptly stopped and that old man with the briefcase hadn't stepped on your toe, you wouldn't have noticed this to be your stop. You glance up, meeting a few gazes that flitted away as quickly as they were found; you stared at the open doors, inviting you on your regular route home. 


You sat in dazed silence as the doors closed, and the train moved on. 


Regular you would curse, standing up to begin pushing and apologizing your way to the front and wondering what on Earth got into you as you waited for the next stop, groaning about how you were going to waste your lunch money for a taxi and what your roommate would think. This was not regular you, though. As more stops flew by and the train grew emptier, you find yourself still standing, eyes drilled into the floor as tears threatened to flood your eyes. Realization was harsh. Harsher than anger, or sadness, betrayal and failure was nothing compared to a sudden gut punch of reality. Your back begins to ache from the uncomfortable seat, refusing your bones rest and your guard to drop along with the streaks of tears down your face; another moment passes before you do that embarrassingly loud wheeze, choking on your gasps as you sobbed to yourself. 


This was rock bottom. This routine, this job, this meaningless journey that you convinced yourself is life. This isn't- no, shouldn't be life. Life is- 


You glance up as the train's intercom spoke a sudden garble, and the sobs nearly turn into a chuckle. When was the last time anyone even bothered making sense of what the voice said? With a quick glance around, you notice the few others either collecting their belongings and standing; last stop, perhaps, or anything after this was not worth visiting. After scrubbing away the tears and standing, the sudden vertigo makes you stumble back down and nearly miss the seat. The train spun and you drop your head into a hand, praying to not pass out. 


How long you sat like that, you do not know, until a gentle whistle sounded throughout the compartment. Glancing up through your fingers welcomes the image of an old man. Seriously old, the type that waddle to a bench to watch a day pass without a care in the world. This man seemed caring though. 


"I would get off at this stop, if I were you," he murmured, leaning on his cane as your head did in your hands. "My son has not a care in the world with this train, so you might want to take B7 instead of this one."


You can only nod, still a little lightheaded after your original tumble. The old man seems to be okay with silence though. In a way, you're thankful; conversation is not great during life epiphanies. Though as the train slowed and the doors opened, you couldn't help but force a smile (praying your eye didn't twitch) to the old man. He simply smiled back, a kind gesture with a knowing look in his eyes that hardened the lump in your throat. For a moment you considered letting the doors close in front of you, sitting next to the man and seeing if his wisdom could smooth aches of the past how many years you had them; however you pushed on, and nearly winced at how the doors shut you out from the train. After watching your daily ride disappear, you let your feet carry you wherever, letting the musty breeze from around the train station carry your worries and heartaches throughout your body until that quote thumped into center stage again. 


"The one good thing about hitting rock bottom; the only other way is up."


This was rock bottom. Missing a stranger who you speculate has wisdom. Seeing daily faces pushing against you on your way home, yet never learning their names, their routine or names. What was that chick's name, the one with a different hair colour every month and looked like an anime character? That briefcase man, who's eye never left his little book, what was in there? Did any of your coworkers, or old classmates take the same train? This wasn't a matter of curiosity, but gut wrenching loneliness and distance further than light years in an empty galaxy. Just as your thoughts became more turbulent, a curb nearly tripped you flat onto your face. Making an unceremonious sounds was a talent. As you caught yourself on a bench, you silently hoped no one was around to bear witness; glancing around, you found yourself in a park well known in your city. Fresh air as you walk back to your apartment couldn't hurt... Well, you were convinced. You begin walking, bracing yourself for thoughts to crowd your mind like bees buzzing between hive walls, however as your eyes took in greenery your mind took on a state of comforting silence, leaving you in a safe, numb space until your surroundings were familiar and your building only a block away. As you turned a corner, ready to leave trodden dirt for pavement, bleeding sunlight smacked you directly in the face. A hand was brought up, but only shortly, as the sun seemed to pass almost instantaneously. How unfortunate. If only you didn't live in a city but a lush green forest, a treehouse stretched miles in the air to witness glorious sights of sun's rays basking their glory for one final show before letting the moon perform to a sleeping audience...


You look to your left. A tree is there. You step forward, gracefully reaching for a low hanging branch and pulling; strong bark responded to your touch, and you could swear the tree rustled their leaves invitingly. You climbed trees before; this oak was aware. Were your muscles? It has been so long...


A few adrenaline fueled minutes later, you lean against the thinned trunk, panting and awkwardly swiping sweat off the back of your neck as your eyes followed the sun bowing down, ready to go backstage after such a gorgeous performance. As wind rustles your hair amongst sore muscles and strained clothing, you notice a certain something on some leaves near you. Dirt. A shadow of a footprint, a whisper of someone standing on rock and clambering up from a low point to reaching a sky. You smile. This was a start.


April 24, 2021 03:55

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