Unpublished Connections: The Brave Little Cookie Box

I don’t claim to be a magician, but I was down on the platform for all of thirty seconds before an F train came sliding into 14th Street, and that’s as good as magic. It slowed down right as I pulled up even with the bench you were sitting on, fearless in the face of bedbugs. All bedbugs are cowards and when winter comes to the city, they are eager to find warmth. Even the brave know the feeling.

You hair was dark, curly. Your eyes were blue and warm. I do not know your parents, but I know their courage. I know their genetic bravery, throwing such distinct genes into their future child. Have they fought any wars? Haven’t we all fought a war now and again? You wore a skirt. I could tell that you were daring, defiant in the face of fall temperatures and the middling but incessant drizzle above ground.

You held a box. The box was a size that suggested a personal pan pizza. Where I expected pizza, you held instead a flat box of cookies. We guess at the physics of the universe. All we find are uncertainties.

I have fought a war against gluten. When I was younger, I was stronger. But all men age if they survive the battlefields of youth. It was Christmas almost three years ago, as it will be Christmas again soon. I relented in my fight against the crippling intestinal pains of Celiac disease. For the holidays, I would eat wheat. I would visit my old friends at Wawa. I would order hoagies from them and thank them for not calling them subs. I would be home and at home simultaneously. And then I never took up arms against abdominal distress again.

The magic that brought me onto that platform just in time for the F train was oriental. Minutes earlier, I had scanned the menu of a ramen restaurant upstairs. The dishes looked fine, and the smell was attractive. I counted the cash in my pocket and found that I was hungry and in possession of the cure. But a man in an apron—truly brave, truly a man among all men—told me that the kitchen was closing and all they could offer was takeout. A hot meal in Greenwich Village is a cold meal once it gets back to Brooklyn. As all passions that flare up on that island by the time the train arrives on the other.

I looked up ramen restaurants on my phone. None were within walking distance on a drizzly, cool night. So I descended to the train. I was wrapped in ancient Asian magic. The train came, and there you were with your box of cookies. I had been delivered from one glutenous skirmish to another. By the time you disembarked from the train at Delancey, my gut whispered to me that I had eaten a muffin at Starbucks not two hours earlier. I watched you walk away with your cookie box and felt better for the moment.