I wrote this as a challenge: write a one-page nonfiction story like the first page of this piece by David Foster Wallace.
I have some (a lot!!) doubts as to how well I did. So . . . tell me! Don’t hold back. I can take it.
I’ve seen many people push themselves into a small box. I’ve squished myself onto trains so crowded there was hardly room for one more mouse. I have seen a man give up his seat to an elderly woman. I’ve felt a woman’s sweaty, skirt-covered groin pressed against my butt – and wished her miles away.
I’ve seen rain splatter against the windows like a hundred spiders crawling across clear plastic. I’ve marveled at the confusion the subway map inspires in strangers. I’ve been puzzled by women wearing very high heels on wet platforms. I’ve had random conversations with clowns, a man who used to teach in India and a suburban housewife shocked to hear the city has no Walmarts.
I’ve seen rats scurry across the tracks ahead of a train thundering in. I’ve smelled a homeless man in the close confines of a car – and been grateful for a plastic orange seat. I’ve spent an hour reading the same beer advertisement over and over again. I have become sticky from no AC.
I have heard announcements over the overhead speakers: This is the last stop on this train. Everyone please leave the train. I’ve seen water pumps struggle to pump water. I’ve been forced forward by the push of a relentless crowd. I’ve walked inches from the edge – and come close to falling.
I’ve held fast to poles. I have stomped on the toes of dissipated men. I’ve tried not to see tear-stained faces. I have heard the announcement overhead: The train ahead of us has mechanical problems, only to be told later someone jumped onto the tracks.
I’ve seen boys turn cartwheels in a half-empty car. I have averted my eyes from public displays of affection. I have heard musicians good enough to make you weep. I have seen a flock of geese relaxing on the subway platform in the fall. I have witnessed the tenacity of grass growing in the middle of the train tracks. I’ve felt a baby tug at my fingers, attracted by sparkling nails – and been content.