The girl on the subway - by Lisa Schwartz

The girl next to you on the subway with the large coffee and the larger sunglasses
Is wearing her business casuals and a hangover this morning. 

When she ignores you when you smile at her, she isn’t cruel.
She is wondering.
Wondering what she did in the black hours of last night.
The ones she can’t remember,

From the night before. The week before. What feels like her whole life. 

She is promising herself that she won’t drink ever again.
But tonight she’ll justify a glass of wine to take the edge off, just this once.
For a while this will work, and with her knuckles clenched tight,
She will pretend that this is good enough.
But she will be miserable, wishing she could just be in control,
That control could feel natural to her.

But it won’t.

Then, one night, she’ll take it too far, like she has so many times before.
She will glory in the highest highs,
She will rally in the confidence the drink gives her.
She will feel glamourous and included.

And she will ignore all of the parts of this that taste like bitter lies.

She will slur and so will everyone around her, they won’t notice.
Not until they need to distance themselves from her,
In the time she needs them the most.
She will wake and wonder when the hole in the middle of her life

Got so damn big.

But not today, today she rides the train with the shaky determination of someone who is promising themselves something they’ve promised a million times before.
A promise they know they won’t keep because they don’t even want to.

But today she will survive.

And one day. One day. She will be back here again.
But she will not shrink from the bright light of morning
And her head will pound with possibility
Instead of last night's pain.

One day, she will be free.

- Lisa Schwartz

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