By Angelina Arias
Student, Bronx High School for Law and Community Service
Tom eagerly stepped through the doors of the train and sat in a nearby seat. The sudden wave of cold air cooled down his heated, light skin as he sighed in relief. The conductor announced the next stop and the doors closed.
He felt the sudden jerk from the force of the train as it began to move, and soon the bright lights of the underground station faded away and were replaced by the darkness of the tunnels. Tom found himself easily growing bored, what with his phone dying and the horrible internet access within the tunnels of the railroad system. His mind began to wander off as he stared out the window of the cart, and he started to ask himself questions that were rather odd in terms of how his mind could create them.
Why are humans the way they are? How did life begin? Who created the world? What was his place in it?
“…God,” a strange voice said to him.
Tom snapped back to reality and looked over to the person sitting next to him. The man looked back questioningly.
“What?” he asked. “You asked who created the world and I gave you an answer.”
That was when Tom realized all of those questions he asked himself actually came out of his mouth, and his face flushed red as he quickly became embarrassed. However, just so he wouldn’t look like an idiot, he asked another question.
“Okay, but who created God?”
“He created himself, maybe.”
“Okay, but why did he create us?”
“Don’t know,” the man shrugged. “He just made us.”
Tom gave a silent nod, and an awkward silence grew between them. The brunette wanted to continue to speak more to the tanned, raven-haired male next to him, but he was too afraid he’d offend him. Tom was an atheist, and trusted the ideas of science for answers more than ancient deities. If he accidently said the wrong thing, trouble was guaranteed.
“The name’s Ed,” the man suddenly said. “Didn’t get to tell ya that.”
“Oh. I’m Tom,” he smiled at Ed.
The conductor announced the upcoming stop as bright lights entered Tom’s vision. He had four more stops left. People exited and entered the car and once the doors closed the train took off.
“So do you often ask strangers these questions?” Ed asked with a grin.
“Sort of… Not really.”
“Hm. Well Mr. Philosophy, I have a question for you now. How do you think people got here?”
Tom gave a slight shrug as he replied.
“Evolution. We came from monkeys, and they came from some other animal.”
“So do you believe in God or anything like that?”
“Not really. I kind of find it a bit odd that an all-powerful being created a species and let them do all these horrible things to his other creations. Charles Darwin’s idea makes more sense to me. No offense.”
“Meh. None taken,” Ed grinned. “I kind of found it a bit weird too when my grandmother told me God created everything, but she didn’t explain why he let sin exist in the first place.”
“Yeah,” Tom chuckled.
“Also, isn’t it strange how you have all these choices for your life but you feel like you belong to so many?”
“Yeah. I remember my mom saying she wanted to be an actress, but at the same time she wanted to be a cop, a writer, and a singer all at once.”
“What did she choose?”
“A teacher. Once she had me, she wanted to look for a job that’d fit with a kid’s schedule so I wouldn’t be alone for long periods of time.”
“Hmm,” was the other’s only response.
The train made it to the next station, and more people moved about before the doors closed and the car jerked as the wheels rolled forward. Three more.
“Do you ever wonder how different the world would be if people focused more on similarities rather than differences?” Tom asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Like… Wars or just conflict in general usually start because people pay more attention to how different we all are rather than what makes us the same.”
“That is true,” Ed sighed. “I mean, it doesn’t really matter who you vote for, what god you worship, what your heritage is, whether you’re a dude or a girl, what skin color you are, or even what’s your sexuality. We’re all humans ain’t we?”
“Yeah! And we all have some sort of similar interests. How different can we all really be?”
The next station came rather quickly. Two more to go.
“What do you find most interesting about people?” Tom asked as he glanced over to the other man.
“The fact that it’s easier for us to tell people to man up rather than do it ourselves.”
“Yeah. I mean, we always tell others to be brave and junk. Yet we somehow almost never manage to stand up to our fears ourselves.”
“I guess you have a point. I remember this one time I told my best friend in high school to ask his crush out, and he called me a hypocrite ‘cause I refused to ask out my own.”
Ed and Tom shared a hearty laugh with one another. After they calmed down, the brunette looked over at a man who had stepped on the train and started playing some Spanish music.
“What about you?” he asked. “Ever feel afraid of asking someone on a date?”
“Not at first,” Ed admitted. “But after my first boyfriend dumped me for some handsome jock in high school, I kinda grew more anxious and shy each time I liked someone…”
“Oh! It’s just… I never thought you were gay. Does your family know?”
Ed’s face fell as he turned away.
“No. I… I’m too afraid of what they’d think of me…”
Tom looked at his new found friend with a worried expression. He placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, making the raven-haired man turn back to look at him, and he offered a small smile.
“If they truly care about you, they’ll understand and accept you for who you are. I think they should know how you feel…”
Ed gave a smile in return.
“Thank you, Tom.”
Lights filled their vision as the train reached the next station. One stop left. As the train entered the tunnel once again, Tom let out a sigh.
“Life’s too hard man. Too much pressure.”
Ed blinked in confusion.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, ya see, I’m a sophomore in college and I still have no clue what I wanna do when I graduate,” he said. “My mom wants me to be a doctor, and my dad wants me to be engineer.”
“But… What do you want to be?”
“That’s just it. I don’t know,” Tom rested his chin on his hand. “My whole life I’ve been told what I should do and what I should be…”
Ed looked at his friend sympathetically.
“Well, maybe you should start off with your interests and find a career that matches up with it? What do you like to do?”
“… I do like taking care of animals,” he replied. “Maybe I could be a vet?”
“That’s great! And they get a pretty decent pay too!”
Silence once again grew between them before Ed gave the brunette a smile.
“You know, you’re actually pretty cool.”
“You too,” Tom grinned. “I’m glad I started talking to myself in front of you. I never imagined we could actually have such a great conversation.”
The two shared one last chuckle as the train pulled to a stop at the next station. They exchanged phone numbers to stay connected and waved goodbye to each other before Tom walked through the doors and out of the station. He smiled to himself as he made his way to the bus stop to go home. To think someone who seemed so different could be such a great person. All it took for him to realize it was asking a single question to himself.
Questions are what lead people to new discoveries and can help us find our way as we go through life. Big questions can also bring people together. After all, you never know if the stranger next to you is wondering the same thing as you. Never be afraid to ask questions about life and the world around you. You might just find yourself a friend who wonders the same things you do, just like Tom and Ed.