Saturday, April 13, 2013

Russet (in progress)

    When the train slows, then stops, I close the curtain--all but a slit, so I can peek out. From where I am sitting I mostly see the tops of people’s heads. They are getting off the train, hugging the relatives and friends who are there to pick them up.  
     I am almost relaxed until I think I see the jeans-and-running shoes guy.
     I hold my breath.
     Yeah. It’s him.
     He’s pacing a wide circle, or I might never have noticed him. He’s not glancing up or down. He isn’t looking for me. He tilts his head and I realize that he has a phone against his ear. I sit up straighter. Is he talking to my father?
     I put the make-up back on in a few seconds.
     More this time.
     I want to look a little older, sixteen or seventeen, less gloss, more color on my mouth. 
     I leave my jeans on, switch to a soft pink tee that says “Geek
Magneto” under a loose, light jacket from the Salvation Army bin. It covers my lack of breasts and my battered knuckles. Then, once I am a girl again, I hurry.
     I swim upstream against the people boarding.
     When I finally get through an open door, the man is still pacing in circles.
      I fall into step with a group of people headed his way and strain to hear his end of the phone conversation. I slow down as we get closer and fiddle with my jacket zip, my back toward him, then pretend to answer my own phone before I walk past. I catch seven words: “No. Not yet. But he’s here somewhere.”  
       I keep walking, my skin crawling, my stomach tight.

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