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Rock Street, San Francisco

Strangers
on the Train

As my chest rose and fell, my breath came
faster and faster, all I could see was the water in my bottle sloshing, as my
sweaty and shaking hands gripped the bottle nervously. As the two boys turned
their predator’s gaze upon me, I turned my eyes downward pretending that I
hadn’t noticed. I tried to melt into the seat behind me to avoid their
devouring eyes. I felt trapped by their gaze, like I couldn’t move, I couldn’t
run.  Unable to resist, I flicked my eyes
upwards glancing at them. Big mistake. Their expressions were hungry and full
of glittering malice, as they sniggered to each other, their grating voices
growing louder. 

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As I looked back down at my lap, fear
captivated my rigid and petrified body. My spine bowed under the weight of
their obscenities. As their mouths opened, each word felt like a punch to the face,
beating me down, creating bruises that would remind me of my pain for weeks. It
felt as though I’d been beaten to a pulp. 
Each blow accompanied by screaming, ‘You don’t fuckin’ belong here. You
get the fuck out my country’. He screamed some more, the crescendo of the
symphony of my panic rising as their cold bodies shifted towards mine. I wish
my parents could have been purely Australian just like everyone else’s. I wish
that my chocolate skin was the same creamy hue as the other girls at school.  With every movement of the carriage
left-right-left-right, I ached for the moment my stop would arrive, my ears straining
for the muffled voice which would announce my opportunity for escape. Finally
from the crackling speaker, ‘The next station is Indooroopilly’. The doors
seemed to move further away as their cold gazes hypnotized me and I stood
frozen. I tensed as I broke the eye contact and prayed I could stand up, with
the lack of strength in my quivering arms and legs. All I wanted was to vanish
and to be gone.

My weak hands slowly reached for my bag to
put away my bottle to escape this zoo of snarling and vicious animals. As I
readied myself, I feared my movement would engage them in the attack, my
imagination running through a series of vicious consequences. I sat for a few
more seconds preparing myself for a mental battle. I had already obediently
taken in all their jibes and let them run free. I wanted to…’Indooroopilly…’
That was it, my chance.  I gripped the
yellow handle of the seat ever so tightly, feeling the weight of my weak and
trembling body lag behind me to stand up. They were right opposite me so as I
walked with my body pulling me back to my seat, I watched them through the
corner of my eye, walking very slowly till I lost sight as I neared the doors.
The train floor shuddered as one of the boys came to stand too close. He stank
of ignorance, sweat and old socks. A shock ran up my body, as I felt his stale
breath brushing the back of my neck. I had never been more scared in my life. Whatever
was behind me, I… I was hoping the dust would just sweep me away, yet I was still
in the moment.

I knew they were trying to scare me and
like hell, it was working. I felt as if they could see right through me, every
hair on my body raised, every bone in my neck, every dilation of my pupils
restricting my movement, every flicker of fear and panic in my mind they could
see and nothing was ever hidden. Slowly I forced my brain to focus on touching
that green button, glowing in the darkness that had permeated the carriage. But
what if it wasn’t over? What if they followed me? What if they tried to hurt
me? These thoughts that built up were like a shadow over the rays of my hope and
once again all I wanted was to vanish, to be gone. Swept away with the dust and
rubbish being blown over the platform.

An entering passenger clicked the buttons,
slamming the doors wide open, giving me the perfect chance to run into the
light, but I still needed to know if they were there, stalking me. I glanced
behind me and …I ran out of the train until I could see my mum’s car waiting in
the distance. I didn’t turn back. I thought I’d feel better away from that
train and away from those people, but it seemed I could see the same hostile
expression in the eyes of every passer-by. With a sigh of relief I clambered
into mum’s car. As I sank down into the soft seat, the tension eased from my
body, protected from the gaze of strangers behind the tinted windows. I had
vanished.

Manasi
Ramadani

 

 

 

 

 

 Strangers
on the Train

As my chest rose and fell, my breath came
faster and faster, all I could see was the water in my bottle sloshing, as my
sweaty and shaking hands gripped the bottle nervously. As the two boys turned
their predator’s gaze upon me, I turned my eyes downward pretending that I
hadn’t noticed. I tried to melt into the seat behind me to avoid their
devouring eyes. I felt trapped by their gaze, like I couldn’t move, I couldn’t
run.  Unable to resist, I flicked my eyes
upwards glancing at them. Big mistake. Their expressions were hungry and full
of glittering malice, as they sniggered to each other, their grating voices
growing louder. 

As I looked back down at my lap, fear
captivated my rigid and petrified body. My spine bowed under the weight of
their obscenities. As their mouths opened, each word felt like a punch to the face,
beating me down, creating bruises that would remind me of my pain for weeks. It
felt as though I’d been beaten to a pulp. 
Each blow accompanied by screaming, ‘You don’t fuckin’ belong here. You
get the fuck out my country’. He screamed some more, the crescendo of the
symphony of my panic rising as their cold bodies shifted towards mine. I wish
my parents could have been purely Australian just like everyone else’s. I wish
that my chocolate skin was the same creamy hue as the other girls at school.  With every movement of the carriage
left-right-left-right, I ached for the moment my stop would arrive, my ears straining
for the muffled voice which would announce my opportunity for escape. Finally
from the crackling speaker, ‘The next station is Indooroopilly’. The doors
seemed to move further away as their cold gazes hypnotized me and I stood
frozen. I tensed as I broke the eye contact and prayed I could stand up, with
the lack of strength in my quivering arms and legs. All I wanted was to vanish
and to be gone.

My weak hands slowly reached for my bag to
put away my bottle to escape this zoo of snarling and vicious animals. As I
readied myself, I feared my movement would engage them in the attack, my
imagination running through a series of vicious consequences. I sat for a few
more seconds preparing myself for a mental battle. I had already obediently
taken in all their jibes and let them run free. I wanted to…’Indooroopilly…’
That was it, my chance.  I gripped the
yellow handle of the seat ever so tightly, feeling the weight of my weak and
trembling body lag behind me to stand up. They were right opposite me so as I
walked with my body pulling me back to my seat, I watched them through the
corner of my eye, walking very slowly till I lost sight as I neared the doors.
The train floor shuddered as one of the boys came to stand too close. He stank
of ignorance, sweat and old socks. A shock ran up my body, as I felt his stale
breath brushing the back of my neck. I had never been more scared in my life. Whatever
was behind me, I… I was hoping the dust would just sweep me away, yet I was still
in the moment.

I knew they were trying to scare me and
like hell, it was working. I felt as if they could see right through me, every
hair on my body raised, every bone in my neck, every dilation of my pupils
restricting my movement, every flicker of fear and panic in my mind they could
see and nothing was ever hidden. Slowly I forced my brain to focus on touching
that green button, glowing in the darkness that had permeated the carriage. But
what if it wasn’t over? What if they followed me? What if they tried to hurt
me? These thoughts that built up were like a shadow over the rays of my hope and
once again all I wanted was to vanish, to be gone. Swept away with the dust and
rubbish being blown over the platform.

An entering passenger clicked the buttons,
slamming the doors wide open, giving me the perfect chance to run into the
light, but I still needed to know if they were there, stalking me. I glanced
behind me and …I ran out of the train until I could see my mum’s car waiting in
the distance. I didn’t turn back. I thought I’d feel better away from that
train and away from those people, but it seemed I could see the same hostile
expression in the eyes of every passer-by. With a sigh of relief I clambered
into mum’s car. As I sank down into the soft seat, the tension eased from my
body, protected from the gaze of strangers behind the tinted windows. I had
vanished.

Manasi
Ramadani

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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