The train’s heartbeat thumps through the station, its arrival marking the noisy departure of the birds soliciting nearby. A rush of hot, musty air hits me like a truck, transcending my stuffy mask and spiraling through the tunnels of my nose.
I tug at the ends of my hastily-ironed skirt, its flashy gold trim fluttering just above my knees. It rides with the wind like a cork on the water, dangerously bobbing up and down. It’s a cold day in the city today: a measly 28 degrees Fahrenheit. Blustery wind pours through the vents and sinks its chattering teeth into my flesh, causing my body to shudder and sway with the trees above.
Train after train, grimy window after grimy window, my eyes glaze over the sea of passengers, a blend of vanilla and chocolate sloshing inside those cars. As the train sighs to a heavy stop, the pudding of people within jiggle about, leaking in and out of the doors. I plow through the crowd custard in the nick of time, packing myself into the bustling car just as the doors chomp to a close. The floor beneath my feet rumbles as the train catapults into the vast tunnel, shrouding the windows in a curtain of black.
Peering through the window, I lock eyes with a strange girl in the train car adjacent to mine. She has jet-black hair that she couldn’t be bothered to comb out, with one hand raking out her tangles and the other ruffling out her petticoat. Her winter coat unzipped despite her mother’s disproval because she’s wearing her favorite sweater today, even if it is a little crinkled. Her thin-framed spectacles are fogged by her masked breath, obscuring her eyes from the world around her. If you squint hard enough, you can see that behind those thin glasses lie brown eyes as dark as the tunnel, with even darker eye bags carved beneath them. Her mask is just a tad bit crooked, hiding a smile she wishes to share far and wide.
She’s my reflection.
The train’s heartbeat thumps through the station, its arrival marking the noisy arrival of the people soliciting within. A rush of hot, musty air hits us like a truck, transcending our stuffy mask and spiraling through the tunnels of our nose.
She drowns in the flashing light pouring through the windows, replaced by the familiar hustle of people waiting to enter the train. Even after readjusting my glasses and squinting hard, desperately looking for her, she’s gone.