That Middle Seat (A NYC Short Story)

Two brothers, ages 8 and 10, sit on the 6 train. Across from them sit their mother and their aunt. The older boy stands, letting his brother continue to sit, next to a pole. A largish older lady wedges herself in next to the young boy, pushing him into the pole.

Mother: Lady, you can’t sit there, you’re crushing him!
Lady: I’m old enough to sit, he’s young enough to stand.
Mother: You’re crushing him!
Lady: He has plenty of room.
Younger brother: Get the hell off!
Lady: I’m old enough to be your grandmother.
Younger brother: You’re not my grandmother.
Mother: Thank God.
Aunt: Thank God.
Younger brother: Get off me, you big fat lady!
Mother: Stop that, be quiet. Get over here.

He moves to her lap.

Younger brother: You’re not my grandmother.
Older brother: Would everybody shut up? Don’t fight on the train!
Lady’s husband: Stop it. Stop talking to them.
Lady: I’m telling you to close your mouth.
Older brother: Everybody stop!
Mother: We’re getting off here.
Aunt: Thank God.
Lady: Thank God.

The family hustles out of the train. The rest of the passengers laugh as quietly as possible.

–6 train