Wednesday, March 29, 2017

That accidental closeness

I began to sweat. I was squeezed between two old women who stared straight ahead with an unnatural rigidity. One held her purse tight under her arm; the other pressed hers against her stomach, one hand on the clasp, the thumb in a ring attached to the pull of the zipper. The passengers who were standing leaned over us, breathing on us. Women suffocated between male bodies, panting because of that accidental closeness, irritating even if apparently guiltless. In the crush men used the women to play silent games with themselves. One stared ironically at a dark-haired girl to see if she would lower her gaze. One, with his eyes, caught a bit of lace between two buttons of a blouse, or harpooned a strap. Others passed the time looking out the window into cars for a glimpse of an uncovered leg, the play of muscles as a foot pushed brake of clutch, a hand absentmindedly scratching the inside of a thigh. A small thin man, crushed by those behind him, tried to make contact with my knees and nearly breathed in my hair.

I turned toward the nearest window, in search of air.
— from Troubling Love, by Elena Ferrante.

I don't know which season is best for public transportation. A stranger brushing, or pressed against, my bare skin, or someone coughing into my neck.

1 comment:

Stefanie said...

I know! At least in winter I am so bundled up strangers pressed against me don't feel so intrusive but then someone coughs violently on the back of my head so hard I can feel my hair moving and it doesn't seem any better than summer.