The Ghost Train

I have lived next to a train station in Montclair that transports lots of people back and forth to Manhattan all day and night for 25 years. Many students get off the train and walk across the street to the university as well. We’ve always people-watched as the nightly parade of commuters slog home, usually while I am cooking or clearing up dinner. The last few weeks I’ve been home, I find myself at the kitchen sink looking out the window as the train pulls up, the familiar sound of the conductor shouting “New York” or “Hoboken” and the shiny metal silver of the car temporarily blinding me for a split-second as it glints in the sun. But what’s different? No one gets on. No one gets off. As this week passed in a blurry fashion as one day became the next and then repeated, as I prepared food, cleaned up, sanitized the kitchen and the doorknobs, worried about when to prepare the next grocery list for Amazon Fresh, I kept noticing the trains pulling up keeping to their daily schedule, on time and offering normalcy. But no one got on. And no one got off.

Laurie Smith is a chemistry teacher at Montclair Kimberley Academy’s Upper School. What’s changed outside your window or in your corner of the world? Send a submission to

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