by Destiny Quiles
As I walk down the flight of stairs that separates me from the pavement of the sidewalk, I take a second to realize how funny it is that I am going down a rabbit hole–away from the outside world and into a new chaos. Once I get to the bottom of the stairs, I take my Metro Card out from my wallet and swipe through to the other side. As I walk down the next set of stairs, I am not sure which way to go. Which direction will lead me closer to the exit once I get off? Should I go left, should I go right, or stay in the middle? I have to choose, but that has always been such an unnecessarily complicated thing for me since childhood.
I realize I am going to be waiting here for eight minutes so I can think about that later. I walk around the bag of chips whose contents have been spilled all over the ground, past the gum on the pavement which has now become like a fossil, and over to the nearest seat available: a brown bench with elbow rests that sections off to make six seats. A partially bald, elderly man with white hair sits on the furthest end. I look down at the bench to see which seat I will take. Small puddles of water that someone probably spilled fill the first seat. The one next to it seems as clean as it’s going to get, and I sit there. I look left and right, as people pass by. Some move hastily and others seem to have no clue what is going on in front of them, just what is in the palm of their hand.
I hear click clack, click clack from both the women walking in heels and the trains passing by this stop. A suddenly loud screech from a train coming to a stop, across the platform, pierces my ears. I squint my face and my hands fly to cover my ears from the noise that is piercing through my body. A little girl walks past me: holding her stuffed animal bunny, wearing cute little boots, leggings, a puffy jacket and two curly blonde pig tails, holding her mother’s hand, crying loudly as ever. She says something as she is crying but it sounds like a foreign baby language to me. Her mother is shushing her but that isn’t helping. The mother begins to show embarrassment on her face. Her cheeks blush and her head lowers as the noise coming from her daughter becomes louder and more people begin to stare. The little girl’s mother picks her up, rocks her up and down and sways her side to side; and to everyone’s relief, the little girl begins to quiet down. When I was a little girl around her age, twenty years ago, I was not one to throw tantrums or cry much. But there was a time one day, after my mom, my grandmother, and I spent a full day together, enjoying our time in the city. I do not remember most of that day, but I will never forget our way home.
We sat in red and orange seats, with a window behind us so I could look outside while I listened to my mother and grandmother converse. My mom and I lived two stops away from my grandmother on the 4 train. I knew my grandmother would get off at Kingsbridge Road, my mom and I at Moshulu Parkway. Coming from Manhattan, we had a long way to go. I was having such a good time, my mom to the left of me, my grandmother to the right. I felt loved and happy that I was with the both of them.
“Next stop, Kingsbridge Road.”
“What?” I think, “Already?” I sit up straight. “No!”
My grandmother asks, “Do you want to come to my house to spend the night or stay with mommy?” In one movement before I can answer, my grandmother is standing at the opening of the train doors. The doors open, and my grandmother stands up and holds out her hands. “C’mon Des, do you want to come, or do you want to stay?” Again, before I can answer, she begins to step out of the train we were all on and begins to walk away, towards the stairs. I look back to my mom and again to my grandmother. Then I kiss my mom and run out of the train towards my grandmother.
Out on the platform, I look through the window and see my mother sitting at the corner of the train as the doors close. Holding my grandmother’s hand, I reach out the other towards my mom and scream. But the train hasn’t moved yet. I let go of my grandmothers’ hand and run to the train doors. The train doors open; I run to my moms’ lap, my arms hug her neck, and I immediately stop crying. Kneeling on the seat, I look out the window and cry again and reach my hands out to my grandmother through the window as the train begins to leave. I come off my knees, snuggle against my mom’s stomach as I cry. She places her hand on my head and consoles me. Although I am sad that we all could not be together, I am happy with the decision I made to go home with my mom. As the train leaves the stop, I wipe my tears and smile, knowing I will be home.
As this memory flows through me, I realize I hold on to it even now as an adult. I still feel the sadness and longing of the little girl I was twenty years ago. Unwilling to make a choice between the people you love: and when you make that choice, you hope that the choice you aren’t making, the one you left without, doesn’t feel unloved… Click clack, click clack. I rouse myself and stand up from my seat. The wind blows hard against my face as the next train rushes into the station. Suddenly, everything comes to a stop and there is a moment where everything is silent. The doors open in front of me.
Destiny Quiles is a 24-year-old, self-employed, college student. She was born and raised in the Bronx by a young, single mother. At the age of four, she lost her father, and by the age of six, she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Hence, she has dedicated her life to improving the health of herself and others through her business and pursuing education. She is currently running a business as a Personal Trainer and coaching clients through their journey to grow and become the version of themselves that they strive to be. She wishes to inspire and empower individuals with her story and her practices. Her future plans include applying to Medical School to become a Physician, as well as publishing an autobiography in order to inspire and build self-empowerment in those who have experienced loss and illness.