Last night we nearly missed the train. I ran so hard up all those stairs that I could not breathe. Something deep inside my chest shifted, I thought like a clock, I had broken some spring inside. I could not run anymore. Slowed down. It was a long day. A long day of holding on. Let me lose the train. Even if there’s no other. Maybe I will have to stay here. Find a place. No. It cannot happen. Where? I refuse to go back. I want my room. I pump my legs, run through security. Drop my bag, my books come tumbling out. I skid. Pack them back in. S is far ahead. We find the gate, run down the stairs. I am breathing so hard it feels like my chest is scraping something in my heart. It’s 10 15pm. We may not get another train. I’m running down the stairs. We make it. The train was delayed by 5 minutes. We make it. I am breathing. I am alive. The night skids by my window as I sip water. Breathe. Give thanks. The land moves silently. Someone comes to sweep the floor below my seat with an improvised broom. I wasn’t scared. Not scared. Stuck perhaps. Exhausted. My breathing slows down. I blow my nose and blood comes out. Something in my chest opens. I sit quietly. Talk of the past. Listen to the sounds of people sleeping. The sound of the tracks. I close my eyes. At the station we have missed the metro, the buses do not go to Nanjing Dong Lu. We ride on the back of a bike towards the river. I wrap my scarf around my head for the cold. We’re home before 12. We laugh, smile. The fear retreating.
The crack in the chest
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