The eastbound train shuddered to a stop at the Maplewood station like a dog shaking off rain.
In another time, dozens of the commute-hardened would have begun to board, heads down, shoulders angled, minds as focused on a particular seat as that of a rightful heir to a throne.
But on this early-spring, late-pandemic morning in New Jersey, only a scattered few climbed aboard, every one of us masked.
All that grounded the moment in normality was the lateness of the train.
The blue seats were the same, the clouded windows, the air-conditioning hush; yet it felt as though I’d boarded a train in another country.
Maplewood, New Jersey