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Running for the F train

This is a fictional short story:

A friend of mine used to live off the N Avenue stop off the F train in the area of Midwood, Brooklyn. His apartment was on Ocean Parkway; it’s a good ten minute walk to the train from there. My ex-girlfriend, Greta, and I, used to visit him all the time. It was about a half hour ride on the train and a half hour walk to get back to our apartment in Brooklyn Heights, but we didn’t mind since he was one of our closest friends from college.We’d go over on a Friday night after work, order pizza and beer, watch horror movies and play Rock Band on his Nintendo. We’d stay until midnight before starting our long journey home.

At that time of night, the F would run pretty infrequently. We knew if we missed the train, we could be waiting on the platform for another half hour before the next one came. That was particularly brutal in the winter, since the F ran above ground there. As we walked to the elevated platform from Pablo’s apartment we could see the trains coming and going. For some reason, we never, ever saw a Manhattan-bound train come while we were walking toward the train. The closer we got the station, the more nervous this made us. The longer we went without seeing a train go by, the more likely it was that we would get within a block of the station, only to see the train come and go, condemning us to thirty chilly minutes waiting for the next one. Every time we made this walk, I’d hear the train coming when we were just half a block or so from the station.

I’d scream for Gwen to take my hand and we would sprint for it: fumbling to pull our Metrocards our of our wallets, taking the stairs two at a time, fighting with the turnstiles to let us through in time.

But we made it. Every time. We would collapse out of breath on the train, giddy and grateful for our small victory over the MTA timetable. We’d ride back to our cozy apartment in a decaying brownstone in Brooklyn Heights.

I’ve never felt that way before or since. Gwen and I broke up awhile ago. I returned to New York after an extended absence and stayed at Pablo’s apartment for a few days. And although I was prepared for my usual sprint to the F train, for some reason the timing never worked out. I never heard the train coming, never had to sprint to make the next train. Not once.

Well, it was a good run. You can’t expect magic like that to last forever. I don’t know that I’ll ever have to run for the train like that again. Part of me hopes I never do, much as I miss it.

But I hope she gets to. Wherever she is, I hope there’s a train she’s running to catch, and someone there to hold her hand.

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