The Indicator x The Student: “6:43 P.M.”

Jackeline Fernandes ’24 imagines a strained relationship between father and daughter in “6:43 P.M.,” a story originally published in the Spring 2022 issue of The Indicator.

6:38 p.m. She finds herself on the platform dialing the number at about the same time she began to think about pulling out her phone from the front pocket of her jeans. In fact, he has already declined her call. She’s probably thinking he won’t show, he thinks, as she rolls her eyes and angrily shoves her phone back into her pocket, thinking he won’t show. He runs out of work and is driving through rush hour traffic now, regretting leaving so late as he honks at the old geezer in front of him driving at a snail’s pace. 6:40 p.m., she reads in glowing font, looking up at the display screen with the train schedule times above her. 6:43 p.m., he mutters under his breath, stepping on the accelerator as the Jeep touch screen radio flashes the digits 6:41 in a menacing neon green. Will he get there on time? Doesn’t matter. What really matters: whether he has time to stop at the local liquor store to grab a beer. She steps over the gap between the train and the platform and finds a seat by the window, her eyes settling on the local liquor store across the street, and wonders whether he stopped to grab a cold beer. He doesn’t grab a beer, and instead finds himself running up the platform stairs, briefly stealing a glance at the watch on his wrist, 6:42 p.m. Sprinting now, he peers into every train car window for a familiar face to find the darkened faceless presence of his replicated biological cells rushing past behind the glass as the train lurches forward, the time now reading 6:43 p.m. Remember this — she thinks to herself as she presses her face up against the window, bearing witness to the blurry two-dimensional cardboard cutout that was her father on the platform, looking particularly cartoonish in his navy blue windbreaker and oversized jeans and big floppy New balance sneakers — because she might not even see him in his fleeting atomic presence next time. Next time, he thinks to himself. Next time? she asks herself. The promise of the intimacy of parallel gazes, of solemnly looking at the train together as she waited on the platform with him, was no more and would be no more, for they were to now direct their gazes towards different things. Propelled forward into time, she faces the front of the train car. Remembering his time with her when she was younger, he turns away, feeling detached as though he were watching former events unravel in the third-person instead of the first-person. He finds himself walking across the street towards the local liquor store at about the same time he encloses his hands around a nice cold beer to forget.