Poem: "To the Boy Who Should Be in the Empty Seat Across from Me on the 6 Train"



I noticed you weren't here today

Not that I've ever seen you before

But an overwhelming sense of loss came over me this morning.

Stop after stop, people filter in and out of the train car

When the Grand Central 42nd Street stop rolls around

The train was overcrowded like you wouldn't believe.

And yet, the seat directly across from me remained untouched

No one sat down in the seat, but there wasn’t a reason why

No raindrops fallen off of a tired mother’s umbrella, no coffee spilled from a Wall Street man

I knew that empty, untouched, open seat was yours.


Maybe you were running late, I can picture it now

Slowly opening your eyes, reaching for your phone to check the time

Jolting up in your bed realizing you forgot to set an alarm

Throwing a K-cup in the coffee maker while you brush your teeth and put your shirt on... backwards

You grab your travel mug and backpack as you race out the door

Realizing you forgot your room key as you're already halfway down the Astor Place station stairs

But the train arrives as soon as you get to the turnstile

You have to swipe your MetroCard three times before you can go through

Just as you try to jump into the train, the two tone beep slams the doors in your face.

Maybe your seat was empty because

Maybe you were running late.


Maybe you took the day off

Classes haven't been going too well, you have so many assignments due.

Tuesdays were your least favorite day of the week, class from 8:30am to 5:30 at night

You could email your professors and just take the day to get caught up, on homework and on sleep

You could walk to the beat of your music through Union Square to just breathe, you could take yourself out for lunch and get yourself recharged and remotivated.

Maybe your seat was empty because

Maybe you took the day off.


Maybe something happened

Maybe you couldn't handle it.

Maybe your meds weren't working and it didn't feel worth it anymore

Maybe you felt alone, maybe you felt helpless, maybe you fell apart

Maybe last night, you took matters into your own hands

And went to sleep with no intention of waking up.

Maybe your seat was empty because

Maybe you couldn't stand to feel empty anymore.


But maybe, just maybe, you were running late, maybe you took the day off.

Either way, I noticed that your seat remained empty. I noticed that you were gone.

You are a complete stranger and your absence mattered to me.

You are a complete stranger and you matter.


I hope you were running late, I hope you took the day off. I hope to see you in your seat tomorrow.

All photos by Molly Null.