Click: Whipping the Air


I am on the streetcar when a woman begins flailing in her seat, rocking her head back and forth, her long hair whipping the air. The man with her is patting her cheeks, holding her shoulders, trying to get her to open her eyes, but there’s no response at all.

We are frozen. Someone says, “Is – is she okay?”

The woman slumps, her head lolling on her chest. The man lifts her chin and talks to her and her eyes are closed and her hands are dangling.

Someone else hollers, “Stop the streetcar!” and we glide to a halt.

Her face is slack. Her face is slack and we are all frozen and the man’s breath is hitching when – against every law of probability – an impossibly glamorous woman sweeps towards us, saying, “I’m a doctor. I’m a doctor, let me through.”

We plaster ourselves to the sides of the streetcar so she can get by and the sigh of relief is audible.

She kneels on the filthy floor of the streetcar in a two hundred dollar skirt and says to the man, “Is she pregnant?” and he nods. “She’s going to be okay. She just fainted, that’s all. Someone is going to call 911 just in case.” Eight phones immediately go to eight ears.

She looks into his eyes and says, “She’s going to be okay.” The woman’s eyes flutter open.

And I wish I could say to the little girl Dr. Improbability was in 1984 – one day, to an entire streetcar full of grateful strangers, you will be a superhero.

Photo Sallie