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The Sun Is Also a Star(9)
Author: Nicola Yoon

But he did recognize her and he still loved her. At the airport, he held them so close.

“Lawd, but me did miss you two, you know,” he said, and he held them even closer. He looked the same. In that moment, he even sounded the same, his patois the same as it always was. He smelled different, though, like American soap and American clothes and American food. Natasha didn’t mind. She was so happy to see him. She could get used to anything.

For the two years that Samuel was alone in America, he lived with an old family friend of his mother’s. He didn’t need a job, and he used his savings to cover what little expenses he had.

After everyone moved to America, that had to change. He got a job as a security guard working at one of the buildings on Wall Street. He found them a one-bedroom apartment for rent in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn.

“Me can make this work,” he said to Patricia. He chose the graveyard shift so he would have time to audition during the day.

But he was tired during the day.

And there were no parts for him, and the accent would just not go away no matter how he tried. It didn’t help that Patricia and Natasha spoke to him with full Jamaican accents, even though he tried to teach them the “proper” American pronunciation.

And rejection was not an easy thing. To be an actor you’re supposed to have thick skin, but Samuel’s skin was never thick enough. Rejection was like sandpaper. His skin sloughed away under its constant onslaught. After a while, Samuel wasn’t sure which would last longer: himself or his dreams.

Resigned Local Takes Westbound 7 Train to Childhood’s End

Sure, I can be a little dramatic, but that’s what it feels like. This train is a Magic Fucking Train speeding me from childhood (joy, spontaneity, fun) to adulthood (misery, predictability, absolutely no fun will be had by anyone). When I get off I will have a plan and tastefully groomed (meaning short) hair. I’ll no longer read (or write) poetry—only biographies of Very Important People. I’ll have a Point of View on serious subjects such as Immigration, the role of the Catholic Church in an increasingly secular society, the relative suckage of professional football teams.

The train stops, and half the people clear out. I head to my favorite spot—the two-seater in the corner next to the conductor’s box. I spread myself out and take up both seats.

Yes, it’s obnoxious. But I have a good reason for this behavior that involves a completely empty train one night at two a.m. (way post-curfew) and a man with a big-ass snake wrapped around his neck who chose to sit next to me despite there being one thousand (give or take) empty seats.

I take my notebook out of the inner pocket of my suit jacket. It’s about an hour to Thirty-Fourth Street in Manhattan, where my favorite barber is, and this poem won’t write itself. Fifty minutes (and three very poorly written lines) later, we’re only a couple of stops away from mine. Magic Fucking Train’s doors close. We make it about twenty feet into the tunnel and grind to a halt. The lights flicker off, because of course they do. We sit for five minutes before the conductor decides communication would be good. I expect to hear him say that the train will be moving shortly, etc., but what he says is this:

“LAdies and GENtlemen. Up until yesterday I was just like you. I was on a train going NOwhere, just like you.”

Holy shit. Usually the freaky people are on the train, not driving the train. My fellow passengers sit up straighter. What the hell? thought balloons float over all our heads.

“But something HAPpened to me. I had a religious EXperience.”

I’m not sure where he’s from (Crazytown, population 1). He overpronounces the beginnings of words and sounds like he’s smiling the whole time he’s evangelizing.

“God HIMself came down from HEAven and he saved me.”

Foreheads are smacked and eyes are rolled in complete disbelief.

“HE will save you too, but you have to ACcept him into your hearts. ACcept him now before you reach your final DEStination.”

Now I’m groaning too, because puns are the absolute worst. A guy in a suit yells out that the conductor should just shut the fuck up and drive the train. A mother covers her little girl’s ears and tells the guy that there’s no need for that kind of language. We might get all Lord of the Flies on the number 7 train.

Our conductor/evangelist goes quiet, and it’s another minute of sitting in the dark before we move again. We pull into the Times Square station, but the doors don’t open right away. The speakers crackle on.

“LAdies and GENtlemen. This train is now out of SERvice. Do yourself a FAvor. Get out of here. You will find God if you look for him.”

We all get out of the train, somewhere between relieved and angry.

Everyone’s got someplace to be. Finding God is not on the schedule.

HUMAN BEINGS ARE NOT REASONABLE creatures. Instead of being ruled by logic, we are ruled by emotions. The world would be a happier place if the opposite were true. For example, based on a single phone call, I have begun to hope for a miracle.

I don’t even believe in God.

THE CONDUCTOR’S DIVORCE had not been easy on him. One day his wife announced that she’d simply stopped loving him. She could not explain it. She wasn’t having an affair. There was no one else she wanted to be with. But the love she once felt had vanished.

In the four years since his divorce became final, it’s fair to say that the conductor has become something of an unbeliever. He remembers their vows spoken in front of God and everyone. If the person who’s meant to love you forever can suddenly stop, then what is there to believe in?

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