8AM Train Rides

8AM Train Rides

A Story by Chandler Oswin

“Watch where you’re going!”

“Screw you!!” Sofia barked at the much taller and stronger man, who decided that his own clumsiness was someone else’s fault. He clenched his fists at her as he staggered away, disappearing in the mass of migrating people. Oh well, this is New York City after all. She blew a raspberry as she leaned against the wall with crossed arms and squinted eyes. Where is that goddamn train? She checked her watch: 8:03am. The train was already late.

“Perfect,” she snarled, rolling her eyes. She pulled out her phone: no new notifications. She put it away. Do I need more chapstick? Unsure of the answer, she decided to apply some more anyways. A few moments passed. And a couple more. Restlessness built up, and all Sofia could do was tap her foot.

Over the hubbub of voices, a high pitch squeaking noise grew. A bright light blinded Sofia, and a gust of wind blew a few loose strands of hair into her mouth. She pushed against the wall and meandered to a surprisingly sparse platform. The train slowed to a screeching halt, and Sofia began to see the sea of bodies inside the car she was about to board. Doors slid open, and people poured into the platform.

“‘Scuse me, sorry, coming through,” she mumbled as she wormed her way through the crowds to board the train. The car was almost empty, except for an elderly couple, a group of teenagers ditching school, and a blonde guy wearing an Avengers t-shirt. She sat down in an empty seat diagonal from the guy.

“Doors closing,” an automated voice played over the speakers as the doors slid shut. A short moment later and the train began to move.

“Hey, um… nice shirt,” Sofia said. The man raised his head, then pointed his thumb to his chest tilting his chin sideways. Sofia couldn’t help but chuckle, and nodded her head with a soft smile.

“Oh, thanks,” he replied somewhat sheepishly. His voice was calm and soothing, Sofia noted, and a part of her wanted to hear it again.

“So… comics, movies, or both?”

“Well…” he started, “I have seen every MCU movie, and I’m starting to read the comics, but I have only read a couple so far. My friend got me this shirt, actually. He’s the one that roped me into all of this,” he chuckled. “What about you?”

“Oh me? Um, same, actually. I just never have time to read them all, you know?” He nodded. “ What’s your favorite MCU movie?”

“That’s a hard one… I gotta go with Spiderman: Homecoming. You?”

“People give me hate for this, but Iron Man 3,” Sofia admitted. “It’s not often you see your heroes be human, deal with human issues, and confront their own needs. Yeah, there’s some issues with that movie, but it helped me find some peace.” The man got really quiet. Sofia scanned the train car. Everyone else was too absorbed in their own activities to notice anyone else.

“I don’t even know why I’m telling you all this…” Sofia hung her head and pursed her lips. A few seconds later, the man was standing in front of her.

“Mind if I sit with you?” he asked with such a comforting voice, how could Sofia say no? The two sat in silence, or, the relative silence of a New York subway. A minute later, the man broke that silence.

“You know…” he paused. Sofia turned her head.

“We never talked about our favorite characters. What kind of fans don’t talk about that?” Sofia smiled and began to chuckle.

“There you go,” he replied, also smiling. The two went on their geeky ramblings for two more stops. They wanted to talk about the new Avengers movie, but several passengers begged them not to include spoilers, something they both knew would be impossible. So they shared their favorite scenes, quotes, and anything else that came up from the other movies. The train car began to pile up, and a normally monotonous ride flew by in a flash. When the train began to slow down for a third time, Sofia looked up to the map. They were arriving at her stop.

“Well, this is my stop.” The man’s smile faded as he nodded slowly.

“Okay…” Sofia stood up and began to find her way to the exit, but suddenly she stopped and turned around. “You know, I don’t think we ever properly introduced ourselves. My name is Sofia.” He looked up at her and smiled weakly. “Alex.”

Throughout the day, Sofia could not help but drifting off. That man’s voice played in her mind, and its smoothness melted her knees. “Alex,” it echoed throughout the day. Why was it so easy to open up to him? Will I ever see him again? Why am I even still thinking about him? She slipped on the slightly itchy silver dress that rested on her bed. She had to admit she looked amazing in that dress, despite her otherwise complete refusal to wear dresses. But this night was special. Her brother was hosting an enormous Masquerade Gala as a fundraiser to help low-income school districts get fundamental school supplies, and what kind of person would she be to not show up?

“I just need…” she glanced around the room, “shoes, a coat, my bag, Stupid’s gift, and my mask.” Some people would consider this apartment messy, but she was able to find everything she needed and get on her way in just under five minutes.

Twenty five minutes and a taxi-ride later, she found herself at the entrance of the Grand Hyatt hotel. She glanced at her watch: 7:28pm. Not late, for once today. She flew past the lobby and receptions, burst into a closing elevator, and went up to the ballroom level. Checking her phone one last time… “starts at 7:30pm, Grand Hyatt, Empire State Ballroom.” She was in the right place. She exhaled as the elevator doors opened.

“UGLY IS HERE!!!” A booming voice greeted, giving her no chance to marvel at the decorations.

“Hey there, Stupid,” she smirked.

“Look at you! Hair slicked back. A dress? Makeup??” he mocked. “Who are you and what have you done with my Little Sis Sofia?” She scrunched her face, truly not knowing what to say next. He pulled her into a hug and laughed.

“I brought you this,” Sofia replied when he let go, and pulled a small rectangular wooden box from her purse. “It may not look like much, but you should like what’s inside.” He took the box and studied the carvings on the outside.

“It’s already beautiful, sis,” he smiled. “Unlike you!” Both laughed.

“At least I’m not wearing mismatched platypus socks,”

“Hey! I like them.” Their banter went on until someone behind Sofia cleared their throat. They froze, and Sofia slowly turned to face the mystery person.

“Sir, mister Howell-”

“It’s ‘doctor,’ actually,” he interrupted the man. Sofia lightly slapped her brother’s arm.

Doctor Howell,” The man went on, “I need you to come with me to discuss a rather large donation from my client, who unfortunately was unable to attend this evening.” Sofia rolled her eyes at the overly grandiose mannerisms of this man.

“I understand,” her brother replied. Sofia glanced at him with wide eyes. ‘Don’t leave me!’ she mouthed. ‘I have to,’ he responded, as the two men left the ballroom. Sofia, not wanting to interact with other snobby rich people, decided to put on her mask and head to the bar. She slumped onto one of the barstools, and scanned the list of fancy drinks, half of which she had never even heard of.

“I don’t mean to pry, but you seem pretty down, you okay?” the bartender asked, with a comforting voice. Sofia looked up. Short blonde hair, hazel eyes, dark lipstick, and a tattoo on her left shoulder. Her face felt familiar, and it send a shiver down her spine. Please be gay, Sofia thought.

“Oh, um, yeah, I’m fine.” She put the list of drinks down. No one else was at the bar yet, and all the guests were engaged in useless small talk. “I thought I wanted a drink, but now I’m not so sure.”

“Well, if you don’t feel like speaking with the other guests, you’re welcome to stay here.”

“Thanks, um…” Sofia read the nametag pinned to the bartender’s apron, “Allie.”

“No problem, guest whose name I don’t know” Allie laughed as she leaned onto the bar. Sofia panicked, not wanting to reveal that she was ‘Sofia Howell, little sister of the genius philanthroper Sawyer Howell,’ as the world has come to know her.

“Sarah, my name is Sarah,” Sofia lied.

“Well then, Sarah,” Allie rested her chin in one palm. “Most people here talk about their life problems and whatnot, but then again, most people here are drunk.” Sofia smirked.

“Well, my brother would kill me if he found out that I came here just to sit in a corner all by myself, so I guess we can talk.” Okay, there. A true statement.

“Good,” Allie replied, “Cause otherwise I’d be bored out of my mind, people always want drinks at the exact same time. Have you seen Infinity War yet?”

“YES!” Sofia almost jumped out of her seat in excitement. “Just this weekend, actually! I assume you have too?”

“Uhuh, oh man is there a lot to talk about. Sorry, I saw it a week ago, and none of my friends like MCU! Can you believe it?”

“Allie, you need better friends!” Sofia laughed. Allie stuck her tongue out and squinted her eyes. Wow, she’s so cute, Sofia thought, and rested her cheek on her fist.

“To be fair, a friend did rope me into Marvel, but we haven’t talked in a while… Anyways, Sarah, how many times did you cry?”

“Hey! Maybe I didn’t cry!”

“Sure, if you don’t have a heart,” Allie sassed back. Sofia clenched her jaw and slowly gestured with her free hand.

“Three?” Allie questioned, “that’s not too bad. I cried like twice, but, to be fair, the second time was during the last fifteen minutes. And the end credits. So I guess I cried three times too.” The two looked each other in the eye and started laughing.

“I cried in the end too. ‘Thanos will return’? Using the dusting for the logo? That’s too much, Marvel,” Sofia lamented. “Which scene was the saddest for you?”

“When Peter disappeared,” Allie pouted, clearly remembering the heart-wrenching scene.

“Same,” Sofia replied. “Tony has suffered so much already, that scene was just too much.”

“Tell me about it,” Allie laughed. “All the Tony haters out there, and I get to be with you. Wow I’m lucky.” Sofia blushed. Did Allie really think that? Or was she just being friendly? Or were they flirting? How would she even-

“Sarah! I just thought of something!” Allie exclaimed. Sofia looked up. “What if all the characters that got wiped out ended up in the soul realm, and they work together to escape and defeat Thanos?” Sofia’s jaw dropped.

“That is genius!” she replied as she leaned forward onto her forearms. I could kiss you right now, Sofia thought to herself.

“You could what now?” Allie replied. Oh crap, I said that outloud.

“Wait, are you gay?” Allie asked. Damnit! She’s straight! And she might even be homophobic! I am screwed.

“I’m pan!” Allie exclaimed with a smile. What??? Sofia blushed, and looked down at the counter.

“I’m bi, actually,” she responded. Allie grabbed Sofia’s hands, and Sofia felt her heart start racing. Was this actually happening?

“Do you want go out with me?” Allie asked with a calm voice. Sofia looked up and smiled, squeezing Allie’s hands in response.

“I’m gonna take that as a yes,” Allie winked. She let go of Sofia’s hands and walked. Sofia felt suddenly cold and alone. Allie was right there, and she missed her already. Suddenly, she remembered Alex, and couldn’t help but feel guilty about him.

“Here’s my number,” Allie said, sliding an upside down business card. “Text me, okay Sarah? Some people are about to need some drinks.” And with that, Allie marched towards the other end of the bar, ready to attend her first customer. Sofia picked up the card on the table. It included a phone number, as promised, but also a message beneath it.

‘Sarah, your smile brightened my day. XOXO Allie’

Sofia unlocked the door to her apartment an hour later. The Gala was far from over, but she couldn’t stay. Not with both Allie and Alex on her mind. She heard the sounds of out-of-tune singing coming from the bathroom.

“You’re here early,” the voice called.

“Well, I live here, just as you do.” Sofia rolled her eyes. Jessica was a fun roommate, but sometime she could be a bit much. Sofia dropped her bag at the foot of her bed and fell forward. Jessica emerged from the bathroom and laughed at the site.

“You can remove your dress now,” she teased. Sofia scowled.

“Okay, but seriously girl, what’s up.” Sofia sighed, and pushed herself to sit upright.

“I met this girl Allie at the Gala, and we talked about Marvel, and she gave me her phone number.” Jessica squealed. Sofia just sighed.

“Hold up, that sounds like good news to me, so what’s the issue?” Jessica sat down next to Sofia, who bent over to grab her bag.

“This,” Sofia responded, holding up the business card. Jessica stared at it, eyes wide and mouth open.

“ ‘Sarah’?” Jessica turned to her roommate and raised an eyebrow.

“Long story short, I didn’t want people there to know I was Sawyer’s sister. And that’s not all. Remember how I was really irate this morning?”

“Not really, since you’re irate every morning- OW! Sofia you need to stop slapping people’s arms.”


“Go on.”

“Well, I saw a man on the subway, who was really cute. Also a Marvel fan. We were talking the whole ride, and I felt so much happier afterwards. I’m not sure if I like him or Allie.”



“Well, maybe just sleep on it, and in the morning you’ll know what you want,” Jessica advised. “And besides, who’s to say you’ll even see that guy again?”

“Yeah, you’re right,” Sofia admitted. “Thanks, Jess.”

“No problem! I’m just gonna grab my clothes and change in here, you can use the shower,” she replied. Sofia stood and opened her dresser, grabbing a fresh pair of underwear and a nightgown before going into the bathroom herself, unable to shake to two people out of her mind.

The next morning, Sofia and Jessica went through their normal routines. Woke up at 6:45 am, tidied the bed sheets, and then they got moving. Jessica changed while Sofia ate her breakfast, and Sofia changed while Jessica ate hers. Then they fixed their hair together, made sure they both had their belongings, and were out the door by seven forty. They walked together for four blocks to the subway, where they parted ways.

Sofia glanced at her watch as she went down the escalator: 7:55 am. She ran down the escalator, slid her metrocard three times before she could walk through, and fought through the crowded platforms to make the train. At eight o’clock sharp the train pulled into the station. People poured out of the car, but it was still rather full inside. There was only one empty seat. Next to a cute guy with blonde hair. Alex.

She sat down next to him awkwardly and gave a curt nod, avoiding his eyes at all costs. He responded in a similar fashion. I know why I’m being awkward, but what about him? Did he meet someone else too-

“I didn’t think I’d ever see you again,” he interrupted her thoughts.

“I wasn’t sure either,” she admitted. I hoped we would, and I didn’t expect it to be this awkward, and yet here we are.

“I think I want to have your number,” he stated. “I don’t know if anything can happen between us, romantically,” Sofia bit her lip, “but I think we’d be great friends.” Oh.

“Oh, okay, sure. I’ll just-” Sofia rummaged through her bag and pulled out a small notebook. She wrote down her number and tore out the page.

“Here.” The note of finality in her voice was unsettling. The two sat in silence for the rest of the ride. Sofia stood up and was ready to leave the train without a word. She marched out of the subway before the doors fully opened, and walked towards the exit. She turned around, hoping to see Alex one last time. She was not expecting him to text her, despite what he had said. The spot where Alex was sitting was now empty. Sofia sighed, and walked to her work.

After work, Sofia went straight to her apartment. The card with Allie’s number was on her bed stand. She picked it up. She would probably never see Alex again, and she truly enjoyed her time with Allie. And besides, she felt obligated to tell her that her name was not Sarah. She put the number into her contacts, and sent Allie a message.

‘Allie, this is Sarah, from last night. I need to talk to you about something, the sooner the better. Are you free tonight?’

Sofia put her phone away, and fell back into her bed She felt awful for still lying about her name, but at least this would give her an excuse to see Allie one more time. Two seconds later, her phone vibrated. Seriously? Now? She opened the phone and smiled. It was Allie.

‘Sarah! I was beginning to worry that you wouldn’t respond. You’re in luck, today is my night off. I have to tell you something too. Do you want to meet up at the Eataly by Madison Square? It’s one of my favorite restaurants ;D’

Sofia blushed, and began to wonder what Allie needed to tell her. The only way to find out was to be there.

‘That sounds great, does 7pm work?’

‘Yep! See you then <3’

Holy crap she sent a heart. What. Does. This. Mean. Sofia heard the jingling of keys, and then the door opened.

“I’m hoooome!” Jessica sang.

“Jessica! Jessica! Jessica!” Sofia burst out of the bedroom into the main living area, phone in front of her.

“What do I wear?” Jessica raised an eyebrow at her, then scanned the text messages. A wide grin formed on her face.

“Sof, show me your closet.” Jessica works in the advertisement department of Bloomingdales, a dream she has had since Rachel from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. earned the job on the show, so any time Sofia says that ‘fashion doesn’t matter,’ which is a lot, she fumes. They rummaged through the ‘fancy section’ of Sofia’s closet.

“I like that yellow blouse, try that?” Jessica suggested. Sofia pulled pulled off her work blouse and slipped on the one Jessica pointed to.

“AMAZING. I could never pull that off, probably because I’m too white.” Sofia laughed. When they first moved in together, Jessica was appalled at her wardrobe. Apparently, she had been wearing all the wrong cuts and colors for her curvy body type and dark skin tone.

“Sof, you got light blue skinny jeans? Those would go perfect with this blouse,” she went on, and Sofia opened a different but equally messy drawer with a variety of pants.

“Here,” Sofia called after a minute. Jessica scanned the piece clothing Sofia held.

“That should go great with the blouse, what are you gonna wear on top of this?” Sofia shrugged in response.

“I dunno… I was thinking my knitted black shawl?” Jessica nearly knocked her over with a bear hug.

“I am so proud of you!” Both women smiled. “Okay, now put them on!” Jessica practically shoved Sofia into the bathroom giving her a chance to freshen up a little and put on her clothes.

“What should I do with my hair?” Sofia called from the bathroom. She was playing with some of the curls when Jessica burst in.

“I’m not the best when it comes to afros,” she confessed. “But, I will say, if you have a slightly off center part, it should look great with your outfit. Just… no hats or hoods tonight, promise me.”

“Why would I-”

“Promise. Now.”

“I promise!” Sofia scoffed. “But seriously, thank you. Now can I please have some space in here?” Jessica gave her two thumbs up as she backed out of the bathroom.

Sofia arrived at Eataly ten minutes early. She couldn’t afford to be late, not for this. She wanted to get tables early, but decided to wait by the entrance instead, so that she could see when Allie arrived. Does she even know what I look like? Sofia remembered the masquerade mask she wore the night before. Her phone buzzed.

‘I’m close by, where are you? I’ll find you.’

‘I’m by the entrance near Madison Square, you should see me, no one else is next to me.’

“SOFIA?!?” How does she know my name? Sofia looked up, and was just as shocked as the voice.

“ALEX?!?” She shoved her phone into her bag and stormed up to him. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“I have a date here with a girl named Sarah. What about you?”

“I have a date here with a girl named Allie… Wait hang on. I think I’m Sarah?”

“Listen. I’m Allie.” Sofia mentally kicked herself. Of course it was Allie, or Alex, that whole time. Same hair, same eyes, same interests, and how did she not catch the same voice?

“Wow, I feel like a complete idiot.”

“This is what I was going to tell Sarah, who I suppose is you. I’m genderfluid. When I present as male, I tell people my name is Alex, and when I present as female, I use my birth name Allison, or Allie for short. Don’t feel bad about not getting it, I didn’t realize it was you either. And I’m the one with vocal training!” They both laughed.

“So um, pronouns? Prefered name?” Sofia asked. “Assuming you still want to continue this date…” Sofia hung her head in shame. She felt a warm hand cup her cheek. She looked up slowly, not wanting to ruin whatever was about to happen.

“My friends call my Al, and I would greatly appreciate if you use they/them pronouns? Changing it up all the time is just so difficult,” they explained. Sophie laughed and grabbed their hand.

“Well then, Al, I believe we have a date to attend.” Both smiled as they walked hand in hand to the restaurant.

“Why did you lie about your name, Sofia?” It was only a matter of time before Al asked this question, and Sofia couldn’t blame them.

“I didn’t want people seeing me as ‘Dr. Howell’s Little Sister’...” she admitted, somewhat embarrassed. Al did not even bother to cover up their laughter. To Sofia, it sounded like magic, and soon both were laughing as they went inside.

Their date went well, to say the least. The food was great, and spending time with Al was even greater. They continued to talk about Marvel and speculate about the upcoming Ant-Man movie, and they promised to see it together on opening weekend. After dinner, they ordered a gelato for dessert. Luckily Al knew what they wanted, because all Sofia could do was stare at the variety of unique flavors.

The two sat on a bench in Madison Square and shared the gelato despite the cold weather of the evening. Sofia rested her head on their shoulder when she decided she had enough of the desert, and waited for Al to finish the rest before she said anything. When Al put down the emptied cup and wiped their hands, Sofia sat up and turned to face them.

“Al, how come you didn’t know it was me?”

“Orry?” Al muffled, not having swallowed the last of the gelato. Sofia smiled and grabbed their hand.

“My phone number. I gave it to you on the subway?” Al chuckled, remembering the events of that morning.

“Yeah… remember the flood of people that was coming in? Well, one was on crutches and accidentally got knocked over. I helped him get upright, but I accidentally dropped the paper. I searched for it on the floor, but I never found it.” So that’s why I couldn’t see you.

“Huh.” Sofia smiled. “Well, I really enjoyed this date, and I think we should go on a second one.”

Al smiled and cupped her cheek with their free hand. “Sure thing, but is it okay if I kiss you first?” they asked. Sofia smiled into their palm. She let go of their hand to cradle their head.

“Of course.” She lifted her other arm to pull Al into a kiss, and it was perfect. It was neither a kiss that was too fast and erased all the magical romance, nor was it too slow. Their kiss was sweet, open, pure, and passionate. Just as their relationship would be for the rest of their lives.

© 2019 Chandler Oswin

Author's Note

Chandler Oswin
constructive criticism is appreciated, just don't be rude about it. Also, if you have any qualms with these characters' identities, THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR BIGOTRY.

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Added on March 31, 2019
Last Updated on March 31, 2019
Tags: romance, LGBTQ, bisexual, pansexual, genderfluidity, NYC, MCU, Avengers: Infinity War


Chandler Oswin
Chandler Oswin

I'm a high school student who loves creative writing and poetry more..