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Mind the gap…

He stands alone, staring at the station stops, avoiding eye contact, trying not to bump into anyone. He acts normal.

You are just fine.

Mind the gap…

…between appearances and truth.

He may appear normal. But inside, he plays the role for all its worth – 24/7. DeNiro and Pacino have nothing on him. Concentrating, sweating, severe, rigid – every gesture, movement and glance calculated and considered. Hoping not to be found out.

You are comfortable.

Mind the gap…

He likes maps.

You’re not fussed.

Mind the gap…

How many stops has it been? How many more? You check the map. Then eyes return to him.

He stands alone, staring at the station stops, avoiding eye contact, trying not to bump into anyone, acting normal. Concentrating, sweating, severe, rigid – every gesture, movement and glance calculated and considered. Hoping not to be discovered.

You are just fine.

Mind the gap…

…between birds. They make turns that appear, to the unaided eye, to be entirely in unison. Watching from afar, he wonders: how do they do it? He can never join in. He missed his cue. They move away. He missed the signs. Are they doing it on purpose? Alone – excluded. Left behind to fend for himself, weathering the cold, while others feel the warmth.

You feel a part of it all. You move effortlessly with them, in unison. You are already starting to drift away.

Mind the gap…

…between mind and body. He appears to be one of the crowd. But inside his head – chaos. Constantly on. Making connections between objects, people, places, faces. Patterns in time and place, spinning round. Observation after observation. Burning a hole in the Sun.  He isn’t really there at all. He can’t be. He was never really there. He heats up. His head starts to hurt.

You think: Where are you?

Nowhere and everywhere.

You think: What are you thinking?

Everything.

You are puzzled.

He continues on his journey.

You’ll get over it.

Mind the gap…

…between the past and present. For there isn’t one. The memory of stepping onto the train is as vivid as something that happened to him 49 years ago.

You can’t remember where you sat in grade one and who said what just before the national anthem. You don’t need to. Neither does he; he can’t help it.

Mind the gap…

…between mind and body.

It’s hard, maintaining the act. Even the best actor will admit that a role can stick with them – to their detriment. But it’s a short-term effect – and they get paid. Imagine maintaining that role for a lifetime. No wonder his life expectancy is 54 years. By that age – burn out. He’s tired of maintaining two jobs; one nine to five, the other 24/7.

You’re complete.

Mind the gap…

… between too many synapses firing at once. Thoughts racing. Train of thought veering, from station to station.

Am I holding this right?

Am I being stared at?

How structurally sound is this?

Is my face clean?

Is there fluff on my jacket?

Will the printer work today? 

You are just fine.

Mind the gap…

…between real and imagined. Whispering voices, too many choices. Which, where, why, what? How much do you got? Do you got it together? If so, how often?

What was that track? Check the map. You just lost track. Another missed stop. Check your phone.

Mind the gap…

He was never really there. The man who fell to Earth. Drifting through life, with no social anchor. Detached. Cast adrift on a sea of sinking expectations and rising regrets.

You read a text.

Mind the gap…

…between jobs. His CV reads like stereo instructions.

You answer a text.

Mind the gap…

…between relationships. In an act of pure optimism, he kept trying. Part of his act.

You caught him in-between – his natural habitat.

Mind the gap…

…between thought and speech. Between the lines. Between the words.  Between the letters. Within the letters.

What is he thinking? Give him some space. He’ll get back to you.

Mind the gap…

…between thought and action. He has an idea how to be comfortable, yet fails to act. Surrounded by peers, he does not want to attract attention. So he stands, rigid; barely coping with the discomfort. Would not dare to reach out and open a window. Would not dare to close one. Struggles to change hands. Blood drains out of his right arm. Must control breathing. Does he look proper? Must he listen now? Where should he look? What does he smell like? What does he smell? Does he have enough change? When is change enough? Does he need change? What will he eat? What will he do?

You are comfortable.

Mind the gap…

… between you and him. How did he turn out this way? What did his parents do to him?

You make up your mind – not his.

Mind the gap…

…between public perception and reality. Not a genius, savant, geek, nerd, loser or weirdo. Not diseased. Not helpless.  Don’t need a cure.

You just don’t get it. It’s not your fault. Your culture has let you down. For awhile, you shared the train. But this can’t go on forever.

Mind the gap…

… as you step off, onto the platform. Wheels grinds, sparks fly. You turn and look back. He retreats into the darkness. A face in the window grows smaller and smaller, as the train snakes away. He’s a silhouette, a faint reflection then – nothing.

 

“Alone?” by Janii (: is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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