Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

THE ICE KING THAWS
As I stood at the light rail station listening to Mr. C beg me, yet again, to call him so we could hang out, I noticed the transit Ice King smiling slightly as he overheard our interaction. The Ice King and I have been on the same train schedule for several months now, and this was the first time I had seen any kind of emotion cross his face.
The Ice King has the commute down to a science. He has the generic appearance of a Junior High school principal, with a full head of salt-and-pepper hair, cropped short and parted on the side. His nose is large, and years of boredom have etched deep lines in his face. He wears a well-pressed but cheap button-down shirt, generic cotton slacks and worn but worthwhile loafers.
As soon as he boards the train he wraps his jacket around his shoulders and leans back against the window, stretching his body sideways across the seat, and places his backpack on the remaining space next to him. Even though its still slightly dark in the morning, he puts on his mirrored sunglasses, crosses his arms in his lap, drops his chin to his chest and pretends to be asleep. Nobody ever sits next to him, he never speaks to other commuters. No. He lets everyone know that this is his alone time.
I’ve figured out that he’s not actually sleeping, but he’s checking out what’s going on around him. I get the feeling that he’s only interested in getting where he’s going, and probably leads an incredibly boring, miserable life. I try not to sit near him if I don’t have to—I’m a little intimidated by him and feel awkward knowing he’s purposely ignoring all of us.
But this day I was forced to sit across the aisle from him. He assumed his position and I began fiddling in my backpack, searching for a book or anything to read. I had nothing, and finally sat back to endure the ride. Then the unthinkable happened. He spoke to me.
“I see you on the train all the time,” he said.
Me being me, I responded with a completely unnecessary rant about Mr. C.
“Yeah, I buy tokens from that guy and now he kind of thinks I’m his girlfriend, and I try to be nice to him but sometimes I’m just a pansie.” Well that just sounded ridiculous.
“Where are you headed?” the Ice King asked.
“Yale. I work part-time for a non-profit out there.”
He asked if I was from here, and told me he was a computer geek. I was surprised that he had so much life in his speech and eyes, not at all the miserable man I had pegged him for. He halted our conversation momentarily and motioned for me to look out my window.
“Look at that sunrise. Those clouds are just incredible.”
Wow, I certainly hadn’t pegged him as the sentimental artistic type. But he was right. The rising sun had turned the low-lying clouds a deep red, which cast a pink glow over the city as we passed by.
“It’s beautiful,” I said.
We watched the sunrise together, and I felt strangely intimate, and proud, that I would be the one the Ice King would choose to break his silence with. The conversation ended there, but as I exited the train he wished me a good day, and said he’d see me again tomorrow…

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January 5, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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