Here she was on the train again, two fresh train accidents in the news, struggling to remember all the elaborate rules she created after 9/11 to give herself the ability to continue her commute, a mundane daily task that suddenly felt so dangerous. What had her rituals been? Slowly they came back to her:
Don’t sit in the front car.
Don’t sit in the back car.
Sit on the top deck of a double decker train.
Sit by the nearest exit.
Sit alone if possible.
The long and the short of it was that, once she applied all her filters, she spent about a year standing in train aisles.
And then slowly she became numb to the constant strain of anxiety. And there was the fatigue of fear : she simply did not have the energy or stamina to be afraid every day. She started sitting down anywhere convenient. She forgot to check for exits. She slept – no, she drooled – on most rides back and forth, lulled by the jerky sway and clatter of the commuter railway.
She remembered as well occasionally hoping that if, as a result of her lapse in fantasy safety routines she was going to die randomly, it be during that perfect bliss moment when she surrendered to a seat after a long day and let that train carry her homeward.
So now, as these memories came back into focus, she just took the nearest seat and settled in for a nap. Her main concern was not to drool on the man next to her.