80. SubwayHe hated the subway. It was unnatural, shooting through tunnels under the world above.

His job was what it was, and where it was, though, and the subway was the best of a bad set of choices.

He looked at the people surrounding him — it was unnatural being around this many people, pressed together this closely, underground. In case his claustrophobia wasn’t bad enough just being in tunnels deep under the surface, all the people competing for precious space, just added to the rising panic he felt each and every day, both ways, during his commute.

And no one else seemed to share his distress. No one had the wild-eyed look he fought to keep off his own features, but always sensed he failed at hiding. Were they just better at it than he imagined he was? Or did they really, truly not care?

He didn’t care for the city in general. It was too big. Too complicated. Too many things moving in too many directions. Too easy to feel lost, too easy to not see a familiar face for days on end. He had never made the connections he had hoped to make.

He envied people he saw traveling together in the tunnels. Envied them so badly it ached. “Envy is counting someone else’s blessings,” his mother had said. He was tired of feeling like the window dressing in someone else’s story.

He decided to do something about it, as soon as he re-emerged into the sunlight.