person sitting on a bench waiting for a train

person sitting on a bench waiting for a train

“…or would that be culturally insensitive somehow?” she asked. I couldn’t tell if she was being sincere or wry. But this stranger had my attention. I would be lying if I said the thought hadn’t occurred to me too. I paused the song I was listening to to eavesdrop more pointedly.

“Ca-seyyy,” her friend returned. Ah. The question “Casey” posed had been sardonic.

“I’m really starting to wonder sometimes. I can’t say anything lately without Mariah jumping down my throat.”

I fixed my gaze long and over the heads over the two women who looked to be in their early thirties. Then again, who could tell anymore? Teenagers getting preventative Botox to go with their Wellbutrin regimen. Forty-year-olds already onto a second life after the first one didn’t pan out.

Everybody looked the same. Everybody was the same.

A man rolled his chic Rimowa luggage across my view and brought my focus back to the conversation.

“…I am too.”

“I mean, how many times?? I can’t keep having the same conversation with her!” Casey stressed each syllable as if speaking to an imaginary, I assumed, Mariah. HE. DOESN’T. LIKE. YOU.”

Her friend shook her head in agreement. “He doesn’t like her.”

“It’s mad!”

I returned to my playlist, bored with the conversation that moments ago, held so much promise, but devolved into the same pseudoanalysis of friends’ failing romances; a conversation surely playing out at 99 other train stations worldwide.

Can I, a person who has suffered no trauma, feel sad?

I let the sentence travel through my mind. I could practically feel the rough edges of letters like the capital-I and lowercase-p catch on the pathways of my cerebrum.

Can I, a person with no student debt, remember my college years wistfully? Can I wish for the days when the opinions I curated by citing passages from thick books I physically checked out of the library actually mattered? Can I feel a doleful cavity where there once was anticipation that the boy from the first floor might like me back?

Can I, a person with an entire room filled with designer clothing, feel devastated upon reading the name of a Moroccan city because it was a brand at the closeout store my family shopped in growing up? Can I feel chewed up with an emotion that doesn’t even have a word, to know that my mom would give me everything, as long as it wasn’t the same thing everybody else had?

Can I, a person whose worst health crisis was tendonitis, feel sick to my stomach for someone actually sick to his stomach, a side effect of the chemotherapy regimen he’s enduring?

I mashed the volume button to drown out any further trespasses.

The prosecution “rests,” Your Honor.

Jillian Conochan

Jillian Conochan is a professional amateur; writing and editing just happen to be two current pursuits. Opinion range: strong to DNGAF.

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