August 21, 9:48 p.m.
Q Train – 7th Avenue to Times Square
She’s wearing the same shoes she wore yesterday, I remembered, a web of black straps cradling her mango-toed feet like a birds nest – the kind of shoes that make you think: shoes are weird. Yesterday she was reading one of your favorite books, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Today, she has America’s Best Short Stories, 2006.
She stands directly across from you until the first stop, when a departing rider leaves behind an open seat. She sits down quickly and elegantly crosses her legs, glancing to each side at the young woman playing on her Blackberry and the older gentleman reading the Times under a wide-brimmed navy blue fedora.
But back to her. She’s on the same side of the car now, so it’s harder to make eye contact, not that she was looking anyway. There’s something ferocious about her, aggressive, confident, intelligent. The black tentacles on her feet aside, she’s wearing all white – khakis rolled just above the ankle, and a white t-shirt, slightly baggy. You try not to notice the black bra visible underneath. The only bit of color is a beaded necklace of blue and red and purple and yellow and green that loops nearly to her waist. Her brown hair is pulled tightly back into a bun, with a tuft of bangs left to sweep cinematically to the right.
You’re hopeful as she exits the train at 42nd Street, your stop. But as you turn for the exit, she walks straight and looks down the track: you’re here to stay and she’s just transferring to another train, without a look back.