Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Breaking eggs

Every now and then something happens that affects me, while other people around me seem to shake it off quickly and move on. A burst of sudden violence, or an accident, or an abrupt release of emotion. I remember as a child watching a cousin fall from a tree and the panic I felt as I yelled for my mother (and the ensuing embarrassment when the boy's mother, a physician, dusted him off and sent him back to play.) In college a basketball player somehow smashed his face into the backboard and fell to the ground in a bloody mess. (I may have the choreography wrong - is that even possible if you're not 7 feet tall? Point is, the excessive blood, the prone body.) I was shocked that once he was carried out, my friends wanted to stay and watch the rest of the game as if nothing had happened, while my legs still trembled a half hour later when we stood to climb down the bleachers.

All this is a preamble to a moment on the Metro North train last week - not the nighttime journey I've already bored you with, but an earlier, Sunday afternoon ride back into the city. A young family got on the train when I did, clearly taking the trip for the amusement of their young children, who were about three and five years old. It was a local train, and they got off only two stops later, after the kids' awe seemed to be winding down. As they stepped onto the platform, apparently one of the kids slipped between the train and the platform and the mother let out a blood-curling scream. I could see none of it, but it was immediately resolved - the father or someone had hold of the kid, or he wasn't as close to the gap as his mother thought - I'm not sure, but in a few seconds the trains door closed and I could see through my window the family making their way on the platform to the station stairs, the mother looking sheepish but relieved. But her scream reverberated in my head, that pure animal terror, and I couldn't stop shaking.

If I were a character in a novel I was writing, I'd wonder if my abnormal sensitivity masked a long-hidden childhood trauma. But I don't think there is any dramatic incident I am burying. There was violence in my family, but I never witnessed it, and nobody ever spoke of it back then. So I think it's just that - having lived a life where we walked on eggshells, I overreact when the egg suddenly breaks without warning.


Post a Comment

<< Home

ring logo
Writing Desk Webring

Join | List | Random
Previous | Next
Powered by RingSurf
Locations of visitors to this page