I am standing on a platform twenty feet above the ground, waiting for a train. 8 am. Around me, disinterested commuters frown and sigh. This is what I love about New York. You can do whatever you want and no one will react.

I step forward past the yellow line. I squat then lower myself onto the tracks. Between each tie is a gap through which I could easily drop into speeding traffic. I begin to walk north, where the train will be coming from. Step step step step. Past what must have been half a pigeon stuck to the track, now just white fluff and gray feathers. Step step. To my left is the third rail. To bend and touch it would be instant electrocution. I don't look at it. Step step step.

The people have been watching me, muttering, but no one has spoken to me. Now, as the train rounds the curve up ahead and comes into view, there are a few startled shouts. Just those few, then no more. They can see the determination in my eyes. I stop walking.

Carefully I plant my feet a specific distance apart and spread my arms fully, palms down. Head up, jaw set. I am a star.

And I am thinking of all the microbes in my intestines, sliding and devouring, maintaining my systems.

And I am thinking of all the tree roots pushing up pavement, interlaced and saturated, one vast green web.

And I am thinking of all the mile-wide particles in the asteroid belt, rotating and revolving, a shattered ecology.

These thoughts are held like juggling, one to the next, perfect consideration, all those elements my body needs and will never see. What I see is the silver train, brakes scraping, but that's not for me; it's not fast enough to save me. The train gets larger every instant. Now, this must happen now. I am now. This must work. Now. It is working.

I launch from the wood, straight up, without bending a knee, and the train passes under me. The rush of air is invigorating and I fight the urge to gasp in, to relax, to lose myself in observation. I must keep these thoughts as large as my surroundings. If, for instance, I were to glance down at the window of a real estate office, I would not think of the star pattern my impacting body would make. No, no. No. I would think of when that glass used to be sand, and of the beach it came from, and the cracked turtle eggs there, and the rounded trapezoids on the reptile shell. I am floating but still connected.

It is time to exercise control. I will not fall into the unchartable sky. I use gravity, and the magnetism of the metal train stopped beneath me. (Many of the commuters, watching me, have chosen to wait for the next one.) I curl up, fetal. Stop stop stop. Tendril. Nova. Cilia. I halt in midair. I pivot and tilt. Now I am face down, ovoid. Cell. Mitochondria. The top of my head is pointed along the trajectory of the train. My hair is not hanging in my eyes. Though it is July, and humid, I am not sweating. Salt. Rock. Canyon. River.

The train rumbles away, which is a terribly mundane noise when not heard from this angle. Protractor. Cathedral. Stained-glass crucifixion. I am moving forward. Soon I am faster than the train, outracing it. A smile shoots onto my features for the first time since I woke up.

Today, I may not go into work, after all.



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I am nervous, going against my instinct, I watch the bus doors close, feeling better as the option disappears. I walk out onto the street. The new asphalt is sticky in the heat, thick tar expansion joints grab at my feet as I walk over them. I slap my longboard down on the ground, the soft front wheels bouncing once. It is solid oak, with three one inch thick strips of griptape evenly spaced down its length. I am rolling slowly now, the bus is behind me, and I hear the rushing air as its air brake depressurizes, and it lurches into movement, the people inside all sway backward, with a death grip on the metal rails for those not lucky enough to get a seat. I wish for a moment I had gotten on, then I remember my backpack, empty except for an old camouflage jacket. I had packed light, I was planning on this. It was the afternoon of the beginning of spring break. I pushed, and I was gliding across the new pavement. Fullerton street, Chicago.

The 74 Fullerton bus was bearing down on me, and I sped up, pushing repeatedly until I couldn’t go any faster. I bent down, and folded my arms behind my back. Very aerodynamic, but if I hit a pebble, it would be face first into the ground. I pushed ahead, feeling an adrenaline rush. I would race the bus home today. I swerved in through a gas station driveway and rode on the side walk, listening to the rhythmic clack-clack as the wheels went over the cracks in the sidewalk. I pushed harder, the sound sped up with me. Clack-clack clack-clack clack-clack. The sound synchronized and surpassed the pulse that I could feel in my reddened face. It seemed that the sweat on my face was squeezing in every time my heart flooded out another half pint of oxygen-filled blood to ease the acid burning in my legs.

I was pushing harder now, on the uphill portion of the Fullerton bridge over the Chicago River. The river smelled foul, I could see shopping carts that had been ditched in its green depths. The grade of the incline lessened and I felt myself going faster, the crest of the bridge was my horizon, and I saw the tops of buildings appear above it, reflected on the hot asphalt like rippling mercury. I came over the top of the bridge, and looked over my shoulder. The bus was out of sight, far behind. I gave one last hard push and folded my arms behind me once more for the downhill descent. The wind began to roar around my head, and I crouched lower over the board, my flying carpet. My eyes watered and I closed them for a few seconds, imagining myself hitting the cast iron fence next to me.

When I opened my eyes I was at the bottom, going a little over thirty miles an hour. The light in front of me turned red, and a wall of shiny cars moved forward, blocking my path. I was going too fast to put my foot down to stop, so I tried air braking, standing up, facing the wind and raising my arms to catch as much wind as possible. I slowed to about 15 mph, and leaned back as I put my foot down, pushing in reverse to stop. I sat down on my board, smiling wildly at a random person waiting to cross the street, half expecting them to say GOOD JOB! YOU'RE BEATING THE BUS! They didn’t say anything and looked uncomfortable. The light changed, and I was off again, kicking the cement until it slid past under me, and I was flying again, on the home stretch.

I pushed more than necessary, seeing how fast I could go. A door opened up, I read it automatically, a hardware store, with two people walking out of it, into my path. I swerved to the left, squeezing past between the unsuspecting shoppers and a newspaper box chained to a rusty light pole. I looked behind me, faking a laugh and heard one of them say something in Spanish and start laughing.

I was almost home, and could see my favorite bus bench at Kedzie and Fullerton. I turned around and rode my board backwards, so that as I passed the bench, I could sit down and slide to a stop. I looked at my watch; it was three o’clock, I was 15 minutes ahead of the bus, and home was 2 blocks away. I stood up and pushed down the service drive on Kedzie towards home. I had found my new way to get there.

True story.

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