#288: Swallowed by Black

February 28th, 2014

Another night, another ‘L’ stop. People huddled under the three heat lamps like so many fast food chicken sandwiches. A few more huddled by the entrance to the platform, hoping the grate stairwell blocks the licking wind.

How many nights have there been like this? How many skies described as “purple”? How many huddled masses, made faceless by scarves and cowls and balaclavas?

It’s over, this winter. It’s over for all of us. Over the last few months, the Trib has run editorials telling people to stop whining, that it’s OK to start whining and that it should snow more so we beat the record. We’ve each figured out our own methods to fight the snow, from doubling up on coats to the “Minnesota ninja” look of ear-flap hat and ski mask.

We’ve learned new weather terms like “polar vortex” and “thundersnow.” We threw boiling water in the air when it got Antarctic and we grumbled and moaned that at least the rain knocked a few feet off the frozen snowdrifts that had piled feet-high since December.

We’ve said all there is to say, done all there is to do and if there were any peace, love or justice in this world, the skies would part with a big “I’m sorry” and give us some goddamn robins and grass.

So naturally, it isn’t done. Huddled under the three heat lamps, the crowd grew, spilling past to wait for the train to come, standing and shivering faceless in the dark by our scarves and cowls — see above.

Down in the distance, a point of light grows. Trundling down the path, we see it coming and let ourselves warm just a tad with hope. We see the light become two as we start to make out the headlights. It’s finally coming! We’ll finally be out of this cold, purple night in an endless tundra of cold and purple. The train is here — we can stop being cold!

Beep beep beep, the train shrieked, unstopping. A groan went up from the crowd. The train was running express.

We pulled our coats tighter and slumped our heads. We had no choice but to hunker back down and wait, keeping hoping through the purple-black night that something would come to take us from this winter.

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You are currently reading #288: Swallowed by Black by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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