Grimaces and moans ring out in collective silence as an additional hoard of people board the train. Shoulders are pressed against shoulders. Elbows dig into sides. If there is air conditioning, it doesn’t seem to work.
A little boy and his mother are amongst the travelers that board the train. Grabbing a pole for balance, the boy looks down in exhaustion at his crayola red cotton sneakers, dirtied from a hard day’s play. A single fat drop of sweat slides down his sunburned cheek. His mother keeps him close, rubbing his back as momentary consolation. She tries to flatten a tuft of blonde hair sticking straight up on his head. To no avail, it is stubborn and unwavering.
The train comes to a quick halt. A passenger vacates his seat. With a sudden burst of energy the boy dives at the open seat. Victory! He turns to look at his mother with a slight smile, as if to say, “I did it!” Turning to face forward, a thought flickers across his eyes. His mother is weary too. A second later he beckons his mother forward, giving up his seat. Moms should be able to rest too. She sits down and warmly pulls him close as he climbs up to grab a seat on her lap. A shared smile reaches across their faces.