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  • This morning on the metro, a girl followed me into the train car and sat opposite me. She buried her head in her hands, her hat pulled down over her eyes, her white cane splayed across her knees. The other passengers stared at her, and each other. I wondered if she cried because she was living a blind life, or if something had happened. Maybe her mother had just died, I thought. She grew quiet and I saw her eyes rolling back in her round face.

    Her clothes were clean. She had not fallen or hurt herself.

    The only kind thing I could have possibly said to her was “za dacha” which means good luck, so I stayed quiet.

    Instead, I imagined the air between us had turned to water. Beautiful water that allowed every kind thought I had to translate to her. Water that erased the tears on her cheeks.

    The last stop came, Alexandrovsky Sad. I allowed her to get up first, knocking her cane around and trying to find the right door to exit.
    I spoke to her quietly “Na Prava.” (the right) and she clicked against the platform trying to judge the size of the gap between the train. I reached out and held her hand against mine, holding lightly. I helped her off and then to the left. I asked her what line she needed to change to, and she said number two. Forgetting the small bit I knew about the Moscow metro I brought her forward, down the platform.

    “Kak linea?” (what line)” I asked her again, and she said “Biblioteka Iminei Lenina.” (Lenin’s library).
    Laughing out loud, I startled her. I was going to the same.
    We reached the stairs and she held me, not using the cane. I understood she had not been blind for very long.
    “What stop on the line?” I asked her.
    “Kropotkinskaya.” She replied, biting her lower lip.

    I was going to the same, on my way to work. The train was just leaving as we arrived at the red platform. People were watching us – her teared-up expression, clinging to me the foreigner speaking a broken crazy Russian.

    Her name was Olga. I told her that the Moscow metro was a messy headache for me (bardok kashma) and she smiled a little.

    The next train came and I told her Kropotkinskaya was just one stop away. She stood and held the rail for a moment, then found a seat as passengers jumped out of her way to give her one. An old woman pressed the center of Olga’s back and she sat down.

    We reached the next station, and I leaned over, making sure she understood we were there.
    “Pa poja.” (later) She said, assured.

    I jumped out as the doors were closing, wondering why she did not get off with me. Then, I thought it might be nice to know you are on the right train and just ride it for a while.
    Music by Martin Ruby
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