Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bold (emotionally) (08/30/07)
TITLE: The Subway
By Carolyn Baney
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“Oh, I don’t know. What happened to the days when a ‘cup of joe’ meant a plain old cup of coffee? Give me a coffee…dark, bold, and hot!”
“Tall, grande, or venti?”
“What? Are you speaking English?”
“Small, medium, or large…sir.” The Goth teenager, touting a pierced tongue and eyebrow, rolled her eyes in disdain.
“The largest cup you have. I’ve got a long day ahead of me.” Glancing at his watch, John threw money onto the counter and sprinted towards the steps that descended down to the subway. Impatiently, he awaited the train, jostled numerous times and barely holding onto his coffee. Drips splattered onto the cement. “My precious hot coffee,” he muttered under his breath walking obliviously passed a woman and her young child nestled into the nook behind the stairs. “Home Sweet Home” was spray painted across the entranceway.
Smoke, noise, and activity escalated as the train screeched to a stop. Bodies shoved in upon bodies, each with the intention of reaching the door first and claiming a coveted seat. A ten-year-old girl was wrenched from her mother’s strong grasp, falling quickly behind as the persistent crowd pressed forward; she knocked John’s arm spilling more valuable drops. “Look what you did!” he cursed shoving her out of the way. The mother hesitantly broke rank and fell back, retreating to salvage her daughter as tears drenched her face.
“Thank God, two more people out of my way!” More resilient than before, John trekked forward blinded to his surroundings, and finally, as in a game of “Musical Chairs”, he wrestled himself down onto one of the few remaining seats. A middle-aged woman had poured herself into the seat next to him and all her rolls of flesh were protruding into John’s personal space. “They should make you pay for two seats lady.”
Turning away to hide his disgust, John glanced over at the emaciated figure to his right, a teenage boy who couldn’t have been more than 80 pounds with blatant track marks going up his arms. Balled up like an armadillo, he attempted to dominate his intractable shaking and muscle jerks; his whimpers squeaked out uncontrollably.
John sarcastically recited to himself an old rhyme he had learned as a child. “Jack Sprat could eat no fat and his wife could eat no lean, and between the two of them, they licked the platter clean.” He relaxed back in his blanket of smugness. After all, compared to these two losers, he shone like a light in the world. Remembering the newspaper tucked safely under his arm, he escaped into the news of the day as the train rattled east bound.
Satiated in his thoughts, he began to sip on the long forgotten coffee in his hand, but before it reached his lips, the train lurched to a sudden halt catapulting a boy through his newspaper and into his lap. The cup swiftly fell from John’s hand.
“What the hell are you doing?” Scrambling to recover any coffee left in his cup, he pushed the boy off his lap. His virulent tongue unleashed its barrage of curses defiling the name of Jesus in its self-willed course.
Crouched on the floor of the train, the boy flinched. However, in a childish wonder that couldn’t contain itself, he blurted out, “What’s that around your neck?”
“My neck?” Bewildered, John groped his neck feeling the long forgotten necklace he wore simply out of habit. A younger version of himself flashed before his eyes, passionate and bold for his Lord; he faded from existence one subway ride at a time.
“Nothing, boy. It’s just a cross.”
Gulping his coffee, John suddenly leaned forward and spewed it from his mouth. “I hate lukewarm coffee!”
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