You feel the wind before you see the light. In some stations — depending on the curve of the tunnel that disappears into the darkness to your right — the white light appears before the blast of hot, stagnant air collides with your cheek. But if you’ve been waiting for the subway long enough to notice the gust, you’ve given up on peering into the dark, searching for the train. You know where that leads: Looking for the light at the beginning of the tunnel is worst than standing still. You’re focusing on your book, glancing at the beautiful girl down the platform, skimming the 6,000-word New Yorker article you put on your iPhone for these moments. The train will arrive; it always does. You can disappear from the present.
The wind, pushed in front of the speeding hunk of metal designed to move you forward, brings you back. The people on the platform perk up, knowing this moment is the next step.
If not already visible, the light arrives, followed, undoggedly, inevitably, by the first car, the second, the third, the fourth, slowing, ever slowing until a full stop.
The doors open with a blast of cold air. You walk on, turn left, and through unfocused eyes gaze lazily into the future.