Solitude - By Ian Duncan
A man stands with his back to a wall . . . singing. His hands are clasped together at his waist. In front of him on the floor lies an upside down hat, probably holding some coins.

Passing the man, I feel his voice rushing past me from behind, into the corridor ahead, and soaring all throughout the subterranean labyrinth of the Metro. In this place, a mere voice from a solitary figure becomes a being in itself, bringing life to the cold, dark stones which surround me. The enveloping power of this voice takes hold of me, leading me through the darkness, through the isolation.

I reach the platform, a different one this time, and wait again for the train to arrive. From the sign on the wall I can see this train will take me where I want to go. Sadness builds inside me as I sense an end to my isolation.

An older boy approaches me. My first thoughts are of his face and of how beautiful it is. He speaks a language I scarcely understand. At first I wonder what he wants from me but after looking down at the group of pencils in his outstretched hand I realize he wants me to buy one. He keeps talking to me, showing me his pencils. I don't need his pencils, but I buy one anyway with what little money I have left, thinking this pencil is the only part of him I can take with me.

The way he talks to me is so relaxed, so seductive, and he stands so close to me that there is almost no space between us. I want to tell him how much I like him . . . maybe in another language, so he wouldn't understand and wouldn't be offended. I think about that and smile to him, but without saying a word. He takes my money and I take his pencil and he walks away.

The train arrives and I get on. The voice of the singer follows me into the train until the doors slowly shut, ending his voice and leaving me in silence. Again, the train speeds deep into the black tunnels beneath the city, carrying me away from my solitude.

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