Plenty of seats open on the metro. Friday afternoon is basically the weekend, some people had half days, others won’t be off for another hour or so. My feet are tired. Wednesday I taught for twelve hours without a break. Yesterday I taught ten. It’s not ideal, but I’m in demand. That’s why I took those difficult days… I’m in demand. Doctors, engineers, scientists, asked for me by name, because I can teach them English, I can say the words and understand what part of speech their word derived from Greek or Latin is. After 5 hours of teaching English, it is nearly impossible use the language correctly any more. “Can you explain me the meaning?” I’m pretty sure that’s wrong… but I can’t for the life of me remember why, or how to correct them. I’m by metro to home. I correct this phrase half a dozen times a day, but it’s all I can think as I sit in my oddly warm plastic seat.
A man hops on the train at the last second. Damn, he has an accordion. I pause my audiobook, and roll my eyes. Musicians seem to prefer line five, plenty of tourists use it to get to and from the city center, and tourists are much more generous. The accordionist looks around the car, only five of us. He leans against the door of the moving train, exhausted. I smile to myself, and hit play on my audiobook. The accordionist exits the car no doubt to go pester another car out of their money.
I text my friends, we were supposed to go out tonight, but Ben is sick and I want to cook him some chicken soup. Luckily someone else already suggested we change the plan, so I get out of it guilt free.
The train rumbles to a stop again. Only one man slinks on to the train, closing the train door behind him. Despite most of the seats being empty, he sits next to me, tucking his belongings next to him on the floor of the train. I glance at him, uncomfortable with his choice of seats. He looks scared. I scan him and his belongings, deciding whether or not I want to change my seat. He’s the accordionist. I look out the window of the train, trying to figure out what he’s hiding from, and see a neon colored security officer scanning the cars of the train.
The whistle blows, the doors latch. The officer and the accordionist lock eyes. The officer puts his hands on his hips, pointedly stares at the musician as we slide away. The accordionist stares back at the officer, his face frozen in distress. The officer falls out of view of, as the train slips into the dark tunnels of the metro. The accordionist looks around the train, taking in the surroundings he failed to register in his moment of flight. He locks eyes with me, and I burst into laughter, uncontrollable, stich in my side laughter. The expression on his face goes from fear, to confusion, to glee, and he joins me. The other passengers on the train stare at us out of the corners of their eyes, hoping we’re not contagious.
The doors open at the next station, a flood of people cram their way onto the train. The accordionist gathers up his belongings, and prepares for his performance. He turns to face me, winks, and begins to play. He is wonderful, the adrenaline, or the outburst have enlivened him, and he plays his tunes cheerfully to a bewildered crowd.
I wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes, and pick up my belongings. The train pulls into my station, and I smile as I walk the short distance home.