Ferry TalesbyKrenna Smart©
Sometimes as travel hither and there around the city on my way to this or that my mind wanders. I imagine myself journeying to impossible places on the back of a long, slithery, dust farting, jaw snapping underground dragon. I'm certain the subway is secretly scheming to skewer me on its ever-ready throbbing third rail.
The subway is an entity and it plays games with me when I'm tired or distracted or just not paying attention. No matter where I'm going or how much time I have I end up in the wrong place just as the train I need barks a laugh and squirts out of the station, leaving me damp and spent on the platform like a lover whose hopes have once again been dashed.
Oh, here it comes now, the ONE train, to take me where I want to go. No it's going the wrong way again. Is this a metaphor, I wonder as I plop down into a sticky seat, for my life? Left again waiting at the edge.
A train comes snorting in and I enter the belly of the beast. As I ride along strange thoughts flitter through my mind like the lights that bounce off the windows as we wind our way downtown, uptown, cross town – I'm never sure where I'm going. I lose all sense of direction the moment I enter a cavernous subway station.
I try to make myself comfortable on the preformed orange seat. My stomach rumbles in time with the train and I hunger for a McBurger though I gave up red meat three months ago. I realize it's the train's décor that's got my belly telling my brain its time to eat. The color scheme. Ah ha! It's a plot. I finally figured it out. No wonder the first thing us poor victims of public transit mind meld do when we pop out of the train is rush to the golden arches – America's rainbow with the blob of fat instead of the pot of gold at the end.
As we slither through the underside of Manhattan I think about those pre-form seats. How well they fit the ever growing buttocks of the average American. I settle one butt cheek into a depression and the other one settles on the other side of the ridge. I wonder what the ridged is for and then the train comes to an unscheduled sudden halt. I grip the seat with my butt. Ah Ha!! By George, I've got it. The ridge is a brake so you don't slide helter-skelter into the person next to you when the train comes to a stop. A sumo wrestler gets on the train. UH OH, I think. He sits, settles his monstrous behind taking four seats. The train starts to roll, it picks up speed. Oh no, a red light. The train comes to a fast stop, the wrestler clenches and CRACK the train breaks in two.
These are the things I think as I sit on the subway. People look at me askance, afraid I'm capturing their souls like a photographer on an uncharted island.
As I breathe the salt air from the ferry window and feel the harbor breeze the hum of the engine vibrates through the soles of my feet. My hair is whipped into action and I look down, down, down into the green, grey water with its diamond sparkles and white froth. I imagine leaping from the window – making a great swan dive, I arch, catch my breath, and slap into the water.
Still feeling the exhilaration of the dive I hit the water hard. SLAP into the wake of the boat. I feel a sudden icy rush as the water grabs me. My internal gyroscope goes crazy for a moment. It struggles to find UP, as I tumble head over heals over head over heals in the brackish water.
I dare to open my eyes and see lighter water overhead. My nose stings from the salt as my insides right themselves. My chest hurts – too long without air. I rush up through the water and BREAK into the air, gasping for oxygen, dizzy and disoriented. My head is dwarfed by the huge ships in the harbor and the great blue white open sky.
I've never felt so alive. So close to death was I. I dog paddle in a circle to get my bearing. Which way do I swim – can I save myself if I swim towards Staten Island. Can I make it before my limbs go numb and stop responding to the commands of my brain?
I strike out hoping the swim will make my heart pump and my blood pulse. Will my inner thermometer register life long enough for me to make it to the shore? Oh what FOLLY to dive from the rail of the ferry but what a way to go!! With Staten Island in my eyes and Manhattan at my back, dirty salt water in my nose and in my mouth my hair seaweed. Me a mid-town mermaid. Let that be my soubriquet.