Last Sunday, I saw a dead man before breakfast.
On our way to Brooklyn in the subway station, we walked past him. A white sheet lay over his body, his feet sticking out the end, like when you grow out of your single bed. Blood was smeared in a grimy trail around his head. Two policeman stood there, all stiff and navy, writing in notepads, heads down.
We theorised on what could have happened as we hurried down the stairs. Was it a murder? Did he fall? He lay by a bench in the corner, and no-one sits on benches in the part of the station where you transfer, everyone walks fast, faster. So maybe he was homeless, to be by that bench; maybe that’s where he sat, watching everyone with all their places to be. Or perhaps he had somewhere to be too, and the police dragged him to the corner, draped the white sheet; a ghost for everyone to see.
As we waited on the platform, I wondered about the last time he saw daylight. I wondered if a train screamed his last lullaby as he closed his eyes; and as I watched the light race towards me through the black tunnel, I wondered if he believed in lights and tunnels, if he was proved right or wrong.
Lately, there have been so many reminders of how life can suddenly break off between breaths, how it is only a moment away from death. It terrifies me how so much can be taken away in so little time. How we are all just as small and fragile as each other, our lives passing swiftly and often as trains underground.
By Amy Fraser of onislands