Invisible to the men in suits and ladies in heels, a daughter leaned in and followed the words her mother read aloud. She was just loud enough that only they could hear.
Downtown commuters gathered around them, looking at their phones to see if they had time to catch their trains to the suburbs. The doors slid shut. Standing riders shuffled around, equalizing the gap between themselves and everyone else.
None heard that the lines written for Hercule Poirot were delivered with a proper English tone. Nor did they care that the questions from her daughter were born of a place much closer to Kensington and Prospect Park than Kensington and Hyde Park.
And when they laughed, each turned to each other from the page.
At Penn Station, the commuters barged out while as many shuffled in. Fewer suits, for sure, but still all checking the time. Her son read to himself, about a sick boy and his dog, and a plan to run away. About a journey to the peak of Mount Ranier.
He frowned as the car filled. When chimes rang out and the door slid shut, his brow lifted as if surprised. His mouth opened in an “O.” He glanced around, closed his eyes, and rested against his mother. Close enough to hear her voice, perhaps now knowing that this would be the sick boy’s last journey. At 14th Street, the chimes rang out and he returned to his book.
And as I left the car at Chambers Street, I could have sworn I heard his mother read, “Life is like a train, Mademoiselle. … It goes on. And it is a good thing that that is so.”
But then again, this was the 2 train, not the Orient Express.