It’s a hot day. Her thighs stick to the yellow seat. The train sways and jerks. The florescent lights flicker, shooting out bursts of hot light. She tries swinging her legs to keep cool. She felt like she had been on the train for ages now. “How many more stops?” “Three more, then we transfer and then only a few stops after that.” These trains don’t have air conditioning like the ones that are mainly in Manhattan. These are old, rundown and different.
The next train runs along outside tracks. She looks out as they enter the unfamiliar borough. It is like they have arrived in a new world. She had been to Brooklyn before but this place was different. It was a different Brooklyn. How could it be the same Brooklyn? The other Brooklyn had tree-lined sidewalks, pretty shops and brownstones. The streets were filled with families and young couples. There was an air of happiness, excitement and possibility. Here the streets were empty and dull. It felt deserted and sad.
They get off the train, the heat hitting them like a brick wall. They trudged along slowly, as if they were moving threw molasses. They keep walking and walking and walking, seeming to get nowhere. She sees no brownstones, only large gray buildings. There are no pretty shops, just run down bodegas. The sidewalks are not tree-lined; they’re barren and cracked. She trips, stumbling forward. She skids along the pavement like a sled on dry rocky land. Her knees run into the uneven cracks. Her hands slap the pavement. Her hands turn bright red and along her knees little dots of cherry red blood form. “Careful ‘Dre. The sidewalks aren’t nice here like in Manhattan.” She gets up confused, unable to grasp the meaning of what she was just told. “Why?” “Because people don’t care about this part of the city like they do other parts.”
They get to a big gray building identical to the others they passed. It’s gloomy presences glares down on them. They go into her apartment. It’s small, hot and cramped. There is hardly room for them to fit. There is no air conditioning. She says air conditioning is too expensive for this building. She gets a Band-Aid for the knee wounds. They have to be quite so her husband can sleep before his next job. Her daughter comes out to play. They go to an empty courtyard attached to the building to run around and play. The courtyard is cracked too. She asks when it will be fixed. “It won’t, just like the sidewalk. There’s no money to fix it; people don’t care enough about this part of New York.”
She thinks of her home and the other Brooklyn again. At home, the sidewalks are smooth. In the other Brooklyn, the sidewalks are smooth. Why is this Brooklyn different? Why is everything here cracked? She tries to understand why. She doesn’t see nice shiny buildings and there are no other kids like her. No one else here is being watched by her babysitter. Here she is the different one. She feels alone and isolated. She realizes this must be why this Brooklyn is so different. Why the buildings are gray. Why there is no air conditioning. Why the bodegas are rundown. Why the sidewalks are cracked.
Age 17, Grade 12
Convent of the Sacred Heart