I stepped onto the train, head down. It was the way to ride the train to my remedial job. It was the way of society. I didn’t have to think about it. It was in the programming.
Or it should be.
Don’t think about it, I don’t myself. The fact that I even thought about not thinking about programming meant there was an issue. A red flag that something was corrupted or malfunctioned.
I wonder if anyone else thinks about the programming.
Stop! I say to myself. Black. White. Head down. Work.
The door of the cramped train car was closing when a brief flair of purple danced across my down turned gaze. A scarf? Slip? Shoelace? Whatever it was, it caused a warm sensation to sweep across my chest.
I reach out, grabbing hold of the closing door to allow a young suit to slide in. I immediately knew the folly of my actions.
The men and women dressed in black and white suits stepped away from me, crushing onto the other side of the train. Their head was down, but they knew a transgression had occurred.
It was not in us to help one another. It was not in us to hold the door, look up and smile. That was not the way. Our way. Transgressions risked our agreed upon life. I have endangered them and our sense of being.
They knew my programming was failing. I would be sought for processing.
It didn’t occur to me to save myself, to step off the train and blend in with the sea of black and white.
Instead, as I stood, isolated by the train door, something crept into my chest, like when I saw the flash of colour. It made me feel warm. It was a new sensation.
Was I unwell? I had to be. If I had to put a word to it, I would say, joyful. I only read the text-book definition of the work. What was joy? Was it warmth?
I look up at the people on the train. There is one person standing at the opposite end of the car. One person who doesn’t have their head down. One person who, although is in black and white, has a purple tie on. One person who is staring at me . . . with a smile on his face.
Everything in me says this person is a processor. I know he is the one person I should shy away from. The one person I should avoid.
I do the one thing that will ensure I get reprogrammed. I smile back.
If nothing else, it prolongs the warmth spreading across my chest and throughout my body. Joy. Even if it gets taken away, wiped clean — it was worth it.
This short story is about change. The change that starts out one person at a time. It was inspired by Aristotle’s “The Cave,” where some people were enchanted by the figures on the wall — and some knew where the figures came from. The person in this story knew there was more to life, even hoped. Yet, its hard to be the only one going against what we know or break away from tradition.