Take the B Train
by Liz Starbuck
illustration by Shannon Purcell
Someone must be aerial-spraying pheromones today. And it’s a bad day to be doing it, cuz there’s a fire drill going on at Berkelee when I walk by and these boys are just too young. At least the brain knows that, but the internal organs are screaming, “I WANT!” My stride is broken, but I make it to Boylston Street, where two college boys sidle up next to me and ask me where I’m going. Not sure yet whether they’re to be immediately dispensed with, I don’t want to tell them I’m off to Glad Day books, so I falter, and one immediately pipes up, “Can we come?” I look at them sideways, but these are no Berkelee boys, they’re probably on some fraternity prank and definitely not my type. I’m thinking, naaahh, when the other one interjects, “Can we be your personal slaves? We’ll do whatever you want.” Mm, that gets my attention. But my mind, once again unfortunately on a different plane than my body, is already made up, and I hear my mouth reveal its alliance, saying, “Sorry, my roommate cleaned house yesterday.” They puppydog alongside for a few blocks but the gay bookstore scares ’em off.
At the Copley Square T-stop later on, it seems that all the world’s a college boy. I search about desperately for a suit I can disparage, but everywhere I look there’s a ponytailed guy with a backpack, a long curly-haired boy with a guitar, or a thicknecked wiener with another thicknecked wiener. I’m squirmy. I want to slam every one of them… in one respect or another.
Faces differentiate themselves, and I notice some that are familiar: the wispy-looking sweet blond with the calm eyes who rides in on my train on alternate mornings; the dark-haired Johnny Depp clone who clowns when he’s with his Emerson friends but looks sort of sad when alone; the skinny red-dredded Indian with his pretty but meek-looking girlfriend; the two blond brothers one of whom – I’m not sure which – is a drummer in some band I’ve seen but can’t quite place. The wispy blond gazes at me from under his hair, and the Indian glances over but looks away quickly. I pore over my book, hoping the little black lines clumped together on their white background can battle down my hormones.
The train is packed, worse than ever, and as I wedge myself into the crowd, book against someone’s backpack pressed to my nose, the little black lines swirl meaninglessly between impulses of rage in my brain. Why don’t they run more trains? Why do I have to live in a damn neighborhood inundated with college kids? Why aren’t students legislated to stand clear of the real people? Why does everyone take up so much room? Somebody’s fucking guitar case is digging into me. I’m sure I can feel the stitching on the case against my butt. An entire goddamn softball team is trying to board the train. They’re reeling drunk.
The words on the page are pulsating at me uselessly, but it’s more trouble to put the book away than to just hold steady. The softball team has started singing some idiot fight song and a woman in front of me sighs and looks exasperated. I’m relieved when the guitar case jockeys for position and seems to find some equilibrium against the back seam of my jeans; its porter is perhaps relieved or exasperated too, for a warm release of breath rushes past my ear. He smells good. Woody.
Somewhere down the car there’s a commotion and it appears the softball team has instigated a very unwelcome game of catch. They’re whooping and laughing, someone is hollering at them and the believed guitar case has molded itself to the back of my legs and butt, exuding an insistent warmth. The brain short circuits, and the left elbow flexes to jab the intruder, but a hand catches it and a voice says firmly, very close, “I’ve seen you do that before. Don’t do it to me.” Woody. I look down at the strand of blond hair trailing across my left bare shoulder. “Just relax,” he breathes, and I feel a hand creep around the right side of my waist. My arm goes limp and his hand slides under it, brushing rough knuckles along the inside of my bicep, fingers exploring the contour of my breast. “Do what I say.”
I don’t move. I wait expectantly – he says nothing. The pressure of his fingers against the side of my breast varies, but his hand ventures no further. His other hand plays across the top of my jeans. I want to whirl around and press my tongue into his mouth, but what if I don’t like the way he looks? What if there’s something weird about his face or I don’t like his clothes? With a slight toss of his head the rest of his hair falls forward over me and drifts into my open collar. I look down to see his index finger disappear under the top button of my jeans. “Don’t move!” he hisses, and I freeze. He presses his hand against my belly and pulls me back against him, hard. The flap of his fly is catching against the back seam of my jeans and I want to reach between my own legs to touch him but I’ve already acquiesced to his orders. I concentrate on my own pulsating.
His hand slides into my jeans and he places it flat against me between my legs, almost lifting me off the ground. I let out a sigh and silently praise the great American pastime for the diversion at the other end of the car. They’re singing some drinking song, pounding the floor with their feet and baseball bats in unison. My guitar case/man is pounding along with them, flattened up against me, zipper to seam.
His hand holds me to him as if he were carrying a heavy amorphous bag under his arm, and his middle finger finds its way inside me. I imagine I can hear his finger slipping in and out, and I can almost smell my moisture mixed in with his woody fragrance. I can feel him breathing into my ear but when I start to let out a sigh myself his breath finds form – “Be quiet,” he says. “Don’t move, be quiet, relax.”
“I just want to feel you,” he says. His left hand has found its way into the armhole of my blouse.
“I want you to make me wet like you are,” he says, squeezing my nipple between two fingers.
“I want you to make me hot like you are,” he says, pressing the heel of his hand hard against my clit.
My body starts to shudder and I try to stifle it, but it’s too late.
“Don’t move,” he growls into my ear, “don’t fucking move.” He bites my earlobe and then sucks on it, releasing hot breath into my ear.
“When I get off the train I want to touch myself all over with your smell,” he says. His hand starts to vibrate against me and he slides two more fingers inside. I tighten my muscles around them, trying to suck them further in. My throat is contracting and releasing along with my vaginal walls, desperately trying to constrict the sounds which want to escape.
“I want to lie in bed and remember how it feels to have your body seize up around my fingers,” he says, and a small cry emits from my throat. “I want to feel you tighten around me, I want to feel your body shudder against me,” he says, and I tense uncontrollably.
“Yeh,” he says, “that’s it, yeh, that’s how I want you to feel,” he says, hot breath on my neck. Suddenly my body releases and I collapse against his body, entirely supported by his hand against my crotch. “Yeh, that’s it,” he says holding me against him, as the train slows to a stop. “That’s good, yeh, that’s what I wanted,” he says, yanking his hand from my jeans. He makes for the door, wispy blond hair flying behind him as he lunges between baseball bats and athletic bags.
“Prick,” I say under my breath, trying to wipe the silly grin off my face.