On the F Line

by Adam Purple

There were two latches on the subway window, but I could only reach one. Stopped in the East River tunnel, we were, all of us, wrapped in overcoats and wool, unable to make even that small amount of room needed to simply remove a layer. But two latches, moved simultaneously, would allow the small vent to tilt inward; then we, some of us, at least, could stop re-breathing our neighbors’ muggy exhaust. A normal New Yorker — no, not me — uncomfortable and hot, but by birthright, confident in voice, and unaware or uncaring of impact, would simply reach for the latch, and shout over the heads of others, “Hey buddy - you - help me with the window.” But after many stale moments, it is in fact my hand that acts, moving through space, stretching to grasp and open the latch, while I look downstream to see another anonymous arm slowly reaching out, to take the second latch in hand. Heroes of the moment, we silently exchange a glance, and the most subtle of nods — perhaps we would become friends.


Adam Purple is a fan of mass transit, and would someday like to be known as a writer.