Little Mine Sweeper


Everyone gets caught in these cycles and it’s just this thing that people do.  People move right and left or they go straight or they go north or south and they make choices and they chose this or that or whatever and it’s all this disambiguation.

I got on the train.  I was on it. It rumbled as it does through Tokyo.  It moved quickly and it made a noise and I heard it but I didn’t.

The summer heat is something that people know but in Tokyo it permeates everything; it makes a statement; it has a conversation with you.  Sometimes you talk with it but sometimes you don’t and if you have lived in the city, and you know the features and the vibration then you might get it, but if you haven’t then you can really only try to embrace some of the colors and concepts and dreams and finally the emotions but without that dreamers spirit you will likely be lost.

I am on the Fukutoshin line, and it’s rocketing through a tunnel someplace and I am ignoring it.

I wipe sweat away, again.  My wash cloth I carry is damp, it’s moist.  My sweat has saturated it.  The long day.  The drastic heat. The intense humidity; it all leans on you heavily.  I look around and people are in various states of subterfuge.  It’s very different from other countries that suffer through a jungle summer.  In Japan, they like to pretend like we are all living in Canada, or Maine; “No problem here, the heat is just one of the temperate seasons.”

A falsehood.

I see her before she gets on the train.  She’s not old, but she’s not young. She’s maybe 28.  This woman doesn’t look at me through the thick glass of the train doors but behind my aviators I’m looking at her and then I notice her carry on; a little girl.

She looks how little girls should look.  She’s tiny.  Her hair’s ridiculously all over the place and it’s nearly down to her lower back. Her skin, which everyone I know would want, is heavily tanned and dark.  She stands next to the attractive almost thirty year old woman but they don’t touch and immediately I think, I know, that they rarely touch.

A chime goes and the door hydraulics go and it all slides open and I move aside.

A lot of people get onto the hot train which is less hot than outside at the indoor station in Higashi-Shinjuku.

They get on, the once very attractive woman and the little girl burnt by the sun from so many afternoons on playgrounds and in parking lots and who knows where.

I don’t know why they caught my eye but well caught it was and I couldn’t help but look on, guilty as I am.  The woman, I sigh for her now, but she was as so many people can be that exist in that realm; near to Kabukichou. Existing in that equation and to them that is reality, and everything she said to the world physically was that she had ridden that ride already and had the T-shirt and it was all done and now, there was something else.

That something else was the little sun brown dwarf not on her thin arm.

I take both of them in greedily.  The woman, tall for Japan and well-built with breasts and hips and an ass and all the trappings of someone who could turn heads but lacking any interest.  She’s not looking.  She’s not looking because of the little kid that is being transported with her.  The little brilliantly brown dwarf that won’t touch her Mama.  Even when I look at her and smile, she doesn’t touch Mom. She doesn’t touch she just angles slightly. That’s it.

The system has been in place for some time; don’t touch mommy on the train, ever.

This is not a baby sitter. Only a mother could be this cold to her own.

And in the end what the fuck am I? Who am I to catalogued this?  What am I recording?

When the train arrives at Ikebukuro station, the doors slide open and they both get out.  I do too and I walk slowly behind them, watching them not touch, or even converse or communicate at all, as we all approach the escalator.

I step onto the escalator slowly.  Then, I look up at the  ceiling creeping by and let out a long sigh.  My weight now feels immense as we just creep along.

When I look back down, I see the little  girl in front of me, a couple of steps up, and her mother in front of her.  The girl is looking at the long steel median between our escalator and the one across from us and her little tan hand is hovering over it.

All my attention, every part of me, all the fibers and components, the focus of complete celestial bodies all wire in and become transfixed on her little brown hand.  Her tiny fingers are dancing lightly over the shiny steel divide; prancing lightly up and down drumming out some rhythm that only she knows.  I don’t look away but I know her lips are moving and she’s singing a song to herself.

Her fingers keep dancing lightly over the steel and her nails are incredibly white and clean.

At the top, her and the mother get off and walk away.  I scan my card over the ticket gate and walk through the station passing a thousand people as I go home.

It isn’t until later that night, in the dark as I’m walking down a hot street covered in sweat that I finally decide what it is that the little brown fingers with the honest fingernails and lack of damage mean  or represent and it’s not a set or fixed value but if I had to choose I’d say that my analysis is correct.

They represent hope.

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