Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

On Monday morning, Maude discovered the joys of taking the subway at rush hour in New York City.

Squeezed between two angry-looking passengers in a packed train with flickering lights, Maude thought that she really shouldn't have bought coffee that morning and held it tight, not wanting to spill it on her brand-new clothes.

Maude and the Baldwin girls had gone shopping on Saturday, and the young girl couldn't help but feel elated, feeling like a whole different person in the new clothes Victoria has insisted on buying for her. With the Ruchets, she had never had clothes of her own, only wearing what Mrs. Ruchet would care to give her from the thrift store. She now had a new lovely winter-white, cropped-sleeved coat and black gloves and scarf and amazing black leather boots that Jazmine and Cynthia had insisted she have.

While she was fondly remembering her first weekend in New York, the train came to an abrupt stop, the flickering lights definitely turning off with a loud buzz.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry to announce that, due to a technical glitch, the train will have to halt for at least ten minutes," the train conductor said in the microphone.

All of the people in the car groaned.

Maude remained calm. Ten minutes was nothing, she thought. She had left especially early to be sure to arrive in advance, and she had plenty of time. Ten minutes was nothing.

What Maude didn't know but found out soon enough, was that ten minutes were never just ten minutes in a subway breakdown in New York City. Fifteen minutes later, the man against whom she had been squeezed during the ride, sighed for what seemed to be the hundredth time.

"Look, lady," he said to an old woman behind him in a large fur coat holding a small poodle. "You've been pushing me for the last half hour, don't you think you could move a little? Stop hogging all the space!"

"Young man," the lady answered haughtily, holding her poodle closer to her. "I can hardly move. We are all squeezed together. And as for hogging the space, you're the one who is clearly overweight. Ever thought of shedding a few pounds? I'm sure that would do you and Lady Di here the utmost good."

"Yeah!" yelled a teenage girl while chewing pink gum, who, although listening to music loudly in her headphone could also hear everything that was being said around her. "But it wasn't very smart to bring your poodle in the subway, either. He's taking up the little oxygen we have in this tiny car. And who the hell calls their poodle, Lady Di? "

"Perhaps you could take off your headphones before speaking, young lady. Don't you hear yourself yelling? Young people these days are so uncivil," said the poodle-lady visibly annoyed.

"I'll get rid of my iPod once you get rid of that ugly, old shriveled thing. And I'm not just talking about the poodle!" yelled the girl even louder, her gum almost falling out of her mouth.

Maude was growing increasingly annoyed at the situation. How could a ten-minute breakdown turn into a thirty-minute uproar? If only she had more breathing room. She tried to look up, but her gaze met her neighbor's wet, odorant armpits, his abundant perspiration soaking through his coat.

This is what hell looks like, she thought.

"Just stop yelling already! Do you people think you're alone or what?" yelled someone at the other end of the car.

"Ha! Being alone. That's a feeling I'd like to remember. Ugh, I should never have taken this dreadful subway. And to think I just wanted to get to know the subway, what it felt like to be among the little people," said the lady stroking Lady Di.

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