(fiction) Erika is late for class again

Erika didn’t really know what the fuss was all about. So the train was a bit late, did the people really have to make such a ruckus over it? She put on her ear phones and tried to ignore the impatient travelers. She would be bit late for school, but that was no different from every other day. She shuffled her playlist to find a loud track to drown the crowd out. She closed her eyes, started to tap her feet and get into the zone. She LOVED these early morning train rides. Once she was at school, she was pre-occupied with assignments and lectures and all the folks. She barely got any time for herself. Travelling to school was her ‘alone’ time and this was when she re-charged properly for the day. Lying in bed asleep after all was merely hibernation. It was here, on the train, when she was alone with her thoughts that she had her best ideas.

She leant back on the subway wall and pulled out her sketch pad. She began doodling the scene in front of her. It was your typical subway station on Melbourne, nothing extraordinary, a little unclean, a little dark for her liking, and the signs were all in fonts she would have described as Sans Serif. Erika had recently sat in on a class at the university about typography. The course was of no value to her main coursework, but she had turned up late one day for her economics lecture and didn’t want to enter as the professor was a bit evil. Her solution was to enter the typography class down in the arts building because she could see a young hippie teacher and fashioned herself an arts student for the day.

Never sure how to tackle peoples fingers, every drawing she made had the people wearing raincoats, hand in pocket. She fashioned them all as private eye’s or better yet, secret agents. She smirked as she added a black patch on one man’s eye and decided to give another a hook for a hand, just because…

The train was a full 5 minutes behind. Should she start getting pissed off like the rest of the crowd? She noticed that the commotion around the ticket counter was getting louder, she responded by simply turning the volume up. This was really not her problem. It wasn’t the university’s problem either. As far as she was concerned, she could simply sit in on another lecture today and not bother with her regular class on Economics.

As she sketched and silently hummed to the music, she noted a few odd things, people around her were all suddenly on their phones. A lot of them looked extremely concerned. What was it? Late for work people? She saw some teenagers in the corner huddled together, they were consoling a crying girl. Was this girl really crying because she was going to be late? What was the deal? She started to draw the bunch when she heard a loud screech. There was an announcement, she didn’t catch all of it, but the bits she heard over the music seemed to be saying that updates would be transferred along as soon as they had them. Typical. Typical Typical.

Her drawing of the crying girl was making Erika a little uncomfortable. She almost felt like she should feel sorry for her. Should she go and ask what the matter was? She looked around and saw a few more sad faces. Some of the them that made eye contact with her would look away quickly and Eris suddenly got the feeling like she was missing the plot. She took off her earphones and looked around. The murmur in the crowd was louder than normal. There was a young guy on the phone next to her who was shouting, ‘No I’m okay’ What was the deal? Had there been some sort of incident? Was that it? Was everyone here aware of some accident, some piece of news that… she had to find out. She looked around for someone to talk to, but instantly felt like an oddball. She had no idea whom to approach. Everyone was self involved, the people who weren’t on the phones looked like they were not in the mood for talking. Some would look at her and smile, but their smile would be so artificial, like they were simply hoping for the best that Eris simply knew that asking them would not be a good idea. What if they were actually close to a breakdown and talking to her simply sent them over the edge.

She looked around and finally saw a police officer. He was looking stressed and a lot of people were surrounding him. Well, that figures, this all looked consistent with some sort of incident. She decided she would simply ask someone, some random person what the matter was. She chose a young woman her own age who looked the least concerned among the crowd.

‘Hi, is something wrong? I didn’t hear the announcement’

‘Oh, umm something about a delay because of track activity. A Porche crashed into the train.’

‘A Porche?’

‘Yes’

‘So… why is everyone so rattled?’

‘Rattled?’

‘Well, the girl there is crying, others all look worried’

‘I don’t know, maybe they are missing some appointment’

‘Oh, ya, uh… that makes sense.’

Erika thanked the woman and went back to leaning on the platform and looking at her drawing. She felt a little stupid. She looked at her drawings. The one with everyone in trench coats was okay, but the one with the teenagers was just plain wrong. What had she been seeing in everyone’s eyes? Just as she wrote ‘SITUATION ANALYSIS’ in Sans Serif font on the drawing, her train arrived. She would be late for school again. Screw Economics, she should attend a class on reading people better.

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