by Marina Hill
Hudson sat on the dirty plastic seat on the six train on November sixth, riding downtown to work. Middle of the week. Saturday could not come faster even if it wanted to. Saturday knew it was most desired and loved to play the tease—cheeky bastard. New Yorkers shoved their way into the subway car and scanned the area for a vacant seat. The jostling train made the lady to his left bump his shoulder. Lady offered an apologetic smile and focused on her iPhone screen.
Hudson twirled his phone in his hands, then pulled out AirPods from his pocket. He flipped open the case and started to tug them out, until a flash on Lady’s screen caught his attention. She looked at him and giggled.
“Are these yours?” she asked.
He attempted a smile. “I think so.”
She angled her screen at him. “Star-Lord’s AirPods?”
He shut his eyes. Busted. Hudson was technologically behind on how these things worked. “I was—sixteen and I still don’t know how to change it.”
Lady raised her brows and studied his face. “Didn’t Guardians of the Galaxy come out in 2014?”
Busted again. Of course it did. And she knew that. And of course Hudson wasn’t sixteen years old in 2014. Lady knew that, too, and he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to feel offended. He wasn’t.
“The comics didn’t,” he blurted. “They first appeared in 1969, but Star-Lord wasn’t written until the seventies, but—” Hudson huffed. “I realize I’m not making myself sound any less dorky.”
Lady laughed again and tucked one of her dozens of braids behind her ear. “I’m Grace.”
He grinned a grin that didn’t require much energy this time. “Hudson.”
“Hudson, like the Hudson River.”
“And River, like River Phoenix,” he blurted. Would she even know who River Phoenix was? Hudson had a thing for loving plenty of dead actors. Something about posthumous honoring.
“Stand By Me sucked,” said Grace.
Hudson raised his brows high as the train stumbled to a stop. Sixty-eighth street. He still had a ways to go until forty-second, like most of the train. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “You might be the only person on the entire planet who thinks that.”
Grace shrugged. “Maybe. Little Nikita is one of Phoenix’s better movies.”
Hudson had been told once or twice that he resembled River Phoenix. He wasn’t angry about that,but he looked like the My Own Private Idaho River Phoenix.
“I don’t think I’ve seen that one,” he confessed.
“You’ll have to,” she said, taking a marker out of her The New Yorker tote bag. Hudson thought that just about every New York City hipster owned one of those—the type of New Yorkers who watched the news when they got home from work. She took Hudson’s hand and scribbled on his palm.
What year was it? People did this in, like, he didn’t know. The old days. These were new days. The train stumbled to another stop on Fifty-ninth Street. Half the train started to empty out. A lot of connections here. Grace folded Hudson’s fingers into his palm.
“Text me,” she said, which pulled him back through time to the new days; Hudson preferred calling. “And we can watch it.”
Grace rose and slung her tote over her shoulder.
Hudson squared his shoulders. It was his turn to respond. He looked between his palm and the woman and curled his hand tighter as his heart loosened and fluttered. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, I will.”
Grace smiled and stepped off the train.“Stand clear of the closing doors, please.”
by Jeff Hersch
Marina Hill is a writer and artist with unconventional tastes; she craves the undiscovered and the ignored. If she isn’t daydreaming about her next story, she’s studying history or yearning to dash into the forest, build a farm, and never look back. Marina has a published poetry collection in addition to over a dozen publications of other works. She never lives in one spot for too long and loves to travel with her husky she named after Aang’s flying bison, Appa.
Jeff Hersch provides analog collages for the modern being. Like his thoughts, these pieces are often constructed in short, frantic spurts of energy, with bursts of self-doubt, though calm and subtle. Also like his thoughts, these pieces represent everyday observations and conclusions about the vast world that erratically suffocates us, with little time for a quick escape or chance to relax, as we are currently inhabiting an advanced state of infinite stimulus.
His works lend themselves to your own interpretation of meaning – if any – but should also serve as inspiration and demonstrate the simple notion that you too can and should create something/anything on a regular basis.
When he’s not hunched over his desk cutting and gluing clippings, Hersch finds the time to play in bands (Glazer, Civic Mimic, Postman Agitator) and volunteer as the executive director of Flemington DIY, a non-profit community arts space in the town he grew up in.