What a beautiful day. It's an easy walk to the stop, a breezy ride cross town on the 49 Express.
A Puerto Rican mother and daughter get on after me. They sit across from me. They never look at me. They are immaculately dressed - new sneakers, new jeans, new jackets. Especially mother, she is a counter balance to the city's grime. Her white jacket, shoes and pink handbag repel dirt as if protected by a force field of purity. The little girl is a cutie. She will be beautiful like her mom, though she won't have those fantastically impenetrable teal eyes.
Mother picks up her cell phone and in common commute fashion (of a certain commuting element) spews rank fire from her pursed lips. It is a dangerous fire that needs only itself to feed on. The safest distance is on the other end of the line (provided the commute is not in the direction of the receiver). Like smoke, it can permeate your skin, especially around the head. It contaminates you.
The little cutie is oblivious to the flames. She is small enough to escape its vile fumes, but for how long? The source is a dry and brittle mess, ready to spontaneously combust at any moment. Her polished nails are weapons. Her tattoo, scribbled across the top of her wrist, jasmine, is a battle scar. Her white clothes are a sponge, absorbing all the grime that surrounds her yet leaving a veneer that says this is what I would like to be, pure unstained and new.