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Chapter 5

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Chapter Five

Caitlin walked quickly in the cold, March night down the side street, her heart still pounding from her episode with her mother. The cold air stung her face, and it felt good. Calming. She breathed deeply, and felt free. She would never have to go back to that apartment again, never have to retrace those grimy steps. Never have to see this neighborhood. And never have to step foot in that school. She had no idea where she was going, but at least it would be far from here.

Caitlin reached the avenue and looked up, scanning for a free cab. After a minute or so of waiting, she realized she wouldn't get one. The subway was her only option.

Caitlin marched towards the 135th Street station. She'd never taken a New York City subway before. She wasn't really sure which line to take, or where to get off, and this was the worst time to experiment. She dreaded what she might encounter down in the station on a cold, March night—especially in this neighborhood.

She descended the graffiti-lined steps and approached the booth. Luckily, it was manned.

"I need to get to Columbus Circle," Caitlin said.

The overweight agent behind the plexiglass ignored her.

"Excuse me," Caitlin said, "but I need to –"

"I said down the platform!" snapped the woman.

"No you didn't," Caitlin answered. "You didn't say anything!"

The agent just ignored her again.

"How much is it?"

"Two fifty," snapped the agent.

Caitlin dug into her pocket and extracted three crumpled dollar bills. She slid them under the glass.

The agent, still ignoring her, slid back a Metrocard.

Caitlin just swiped the card and entered the system.

The platform was poorly lit, and nearly deserted. Two homeless people occupied the bench, draped in blankets. One slept, but the other looked up at her as she walked by. He started mumbling. Caitlin walked faster.

She went to the edge of the platform and leaned over, looking for the train. Nothing.

Come on. Come on.

She glanced at her watch yet again. Already five minutes late. She wondered how much longer it would take. She wondered if Jonah would leave. She couldn't blame him.

She noticed something moving quickly out of the corner of her eye. She turned. Nothing.

As she looked closely, she thought she saw a shadow creep along the white tiled, linoleum wall, then slink down into the railway track. She felt like she was being watched.

But she looked again and saw nothing.

I must be seeing things.

Caitlin walked over to the large subway map. It was scratched and torn and covered in graffiti, but she could still make out the subway line. At least she was at the right place. It should take her right to Columbus Circle. She started to feel a bit better.

"You lost, baby?"

Caitlin turned and saw a large, black man standing over her. He was unshaven, and when he grinned, she noticed that he was missing teeth. He leaned in too close, and she could smell his terrible breath. Drunk.

She sidestepped him and walked several feet away.

"Hey bitch, I'm talking to you!"

Caitlin kept walking.

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