Sunday afternoon I was riding on the subway from Astoria to Manhattan. The lights in the car were turned off. I am not sure if this was to keep things cool or save energy or what, but it was such a nice sunny day it didn’t matter. One of the nice things about the above ground portions of the subway is natural light so I was happy to read my book by sunlight.
Then we hit the tunnel that takes the train under the Hudson River. The lights didn’t come on. My first reaction was irritation because I was trying to read (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers if you are curious). But then I started looking around the train. There is some light in the tunnel, but its not constant. And the train was not up to full speed so there were moments of pure darkness. Followed by a flicker of light giving me a moment to see the other people riding in the car with me. The car had no more then 15 people in it so there were a lot of empty seats.
I found myself thinking of horror movies where a flicker or light reveals a monster or a killer or a ghost. I imagined the flickering of the light revealing a ghost sitting next to the lady across from me. Then I thought about the light revealing that the train had become packed with spirits. Or that in successive bursts of light I would see all the other passengers panicking and running around but for some reason not be able to hear them in the dark.
I imagined the flickering of light being able to let me see into the future. A burst of light could reveal the homeless man at the end of the train in a suit because he had become rich. Or perhaps it reveals a young boy in a military outfit because he is going to be enlisted.
Then we pulled into the light of Lexington Station. I was getting excited about the next trip between stations. Then some guy pounded on the conductors door and yelled “Lights!”. The lights flickered on.
I went back to reading my book.