Central Vision

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a brief short story about a young woman that is riding the train when she learns about a tragedy that she probably should have known about because of her connection to the people involved. The purpose of the piece is to tell the reader a story about the tragedy without specifically identifying it. This is my first piece being submitted and I wasn't really sure where to start, so...I started with this. Feel free to comment!

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Central Vision

Submitted: October 31, 2011

Reads: 183

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Submitted: October 31, 2011




I read about it in the paper, in the subway, on my way to work. I was caught completely off guard by the story, so much that I missed my stop and didn’t even realize it. I was totally captured by the headline and I could hardly believe what I was reading.  No way had I missed that. Last night? How could I not have heard it with my own ears? It’s not as if the walls in my cheap studio apartment are insulated or something. They’re as thin as notebook paper and they groaned all of the time with the settling of the building. I wondered to myself what I was doing at the time of the happening that I read about in the paper. What in the world could have had my attention so that I didn’t hear anything that was happening right next door to me? I wondered if it had anything to do with how I went out of my way to not be a nosey neighbor. You know how people who live in walk-ups are. Everybody is in everybody’s business. I was annoyed by that kind of foolishness, meddling in other people’s affairs. I made it my business to never behave that way. Still I couldn’t help but wonder how I hadn’t been party to this incident when I know I was home all night.

The article in the paper had me so enthralled, I didn’t realize the rotund man that had squeezed himself into the seat next to me was actually squirming and squishing his way down onto the ratty, pseudo-leather seats that were more like rubber with claw marks in them. I could feel him lean over, as if he wasn’t already imposing on my personal space, and take a peek at the newspaper. I thought I heard him ask what I was reading about, but I didn’t answer him at all. I wasn’t being rude or ignoring him. In fact, in hindsight, I probably should have been considering the fact that this sumo of a man was practically sitting in my lap. But I was so completely engrossed by what I was reading that, though somewhat conscious somewhere in some corner of my compartmentalized thinking, I was unaware of what was happening around me. I supposed it was something like that last night when it happened. I had found something that had my attention in such a way that I tuned out everything else. I was always doing that; tuning everything out. I have no idea where I learned the habit or how I had even picked it up. I think it’s come easily for me. If I was reading a book or writing a story, I was focused only on the task at hand, and absolutely nothing else. Ambient noise didn’t bother me. I heard it, but it didn’t actually register, and I showed no reaction to it. I guess my brain could process things that were going on around me that I wasn’t paying attention to while at the same time not distracting me from whatever I was doing. But this was different.

The idea that I had been so close to such a tragedy as it happened and I had not a clue was unreal to me. The gory details of the horrible event that took place in my neighbor’s apartment were startling enough to read in print. But nothing gripped me more than knowing that I had been right there the entire time. Well, not really right there. But I was there. I didn’t recall hearing one scream or a single grunt. In fact, I couldn’t remember hearing anything at all. No television blasting SportsCenter or the History Channel. No stereo blasting NPR or some other talk radio station. No pots and pans clanging while dinner was being prepared or running water for the dishes. Yes, I heard all of that on a regular basis happening in my neighbor’s house through those notebook paper-thin walls. But I didn’t hear her so-called scream or the window being broken out. And I didn’t hear the hammer cocked on the old Smith and Wesson that he was always showing off to the kids in the building, telling stories of “the glory days.” What in the world could I have possibly been doing?

It wasn’t until I finished the article, and sat back to consider it that I realized how far out of my way I had gone on the train. At the same time, I felt the partial numbness in my left thigh from where the Michelin man had decided to cop a squat. Even if the seat next to me was the last open on the train, he should have thought twice about sitting there. I was so uncomfortable and quickly becoming irritated. And seeing how crowded the train had become, I was beginning to feel claustrophobic. I needed to get off. But I couldn’t move. Not because there were too many people around or because I was pinned down somewhat by this man, who was built like a dump truck and now eating a powdered donut. No. What held me in my seat was what I’d just read about in the paper. Sadness rested on my shoulders, like an anchor being dropped from a ship to hold it at sea. Home would never be the same again. And if I hadn’t grabbed that paper and read it, in the subway, on my way to work, I might never have even known it.


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