4 a.m., fluorescent lights. Feet still cold (note to self: never again wear sandals on trans-oceanic flights) shuffle over white tile, blurry eyes blink over pale walls, drift up to empty ceilings. Everything muted, but so, so bright. 

Eyes, a little wider, lock onto a rainbow gash in the universe. Hand — the right one — lets go of baggage to hold a tiny bottle. Surprise, because it’s warm. Kind of nice. Payment, and two sighs of relief: the card works, and so does “thank you.” Eyes dart back to check on baggage. All safe. Body sits down, white table white chair white light and, yep, white hand. 

It’s still warm. An unfamiliar temperature, not lukewarm, but not hot enough to hurt you even if you tried, even if you’re the stupid type who always scalds your tongue.  

It’s metal, also. It makes a sound if you tap it, which the right hand does. The groove-lined top screws off with a tiny tearing noise. 

The bottle is red. Mostly. A nice, bright red, like the shade on the flag. 

The taste is also unfamiliar. Like coffee passed through a sugar sieve into a dream. Pause, let it linger. It’s like the coffee candy from two years ago, consumed in desperate hope of energy. Liquid, though, flowing down the back of the throat. A drop on the table is dark dark brown mixed with quite a bit of the encompassing white. It tastes a little bit like medicine, a prescription for red eyes. 

The warmth fades a bit, the tone of the tapped metal changes too, but the red is the same. It tastes like white milk and americano and, um, Splenda? It tastes like coffee smells through a stuffy nose. Pause again. It tastes like yellow light through a gauzy curtain. It tastes like bitter coated all the way around with sweet. 

Finally, the warmth is gone, the tap rings hollow, the red is still there. A hint of metal oozes into the last drop. 

5 a.m., fluorescent lights a little less bright.  Check, check again, yes, the train is running. Should be. Right hand grabs the bottle, lets it go, grabs the baggage. I decide I liked it. Eyes quite open, steady feet step onto the train. Still white, but indigo outside.

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