You are on a crowded subway platform when you see a familiar face.
“I don’t know, this is not something I can just march right into his office and say to his face. I mean, I would like to, but you know, I sort of need a paycheck, so ….”
Beka chuckled as she carefully descended the stairs, along with about 300 other people, into the underbelly of the city. Her crossover bag softly bumped into her left hip, her right hand holding onto the railing; a fleeting thought of how many germs she was scooping up with her hand briefly penetrated her thoughts. Her mobile was pressed tightly to her ear.
“No body better steal my mobile,” she grunted out. “Remember what happened to Lizzie last week”
Lizzie was walking down the street talking to her boyfriend when some jerk literally yanked her mobile from her hand and went running.
This city sucked.
“That can’t be a ‘thing’,” her friend said. “Surely people aren’t that desperate nowadays.”
“I don’t put anything past people nowadays. If people can’t afford something, they just take it from people who can,” said Beka.
She followed the masses into the dim darkness of the subway and the crowd slowly swelled toward the train. Once you got caught in the mass, you simply had to go along with the crowd or be trampled in the process.
“I may lose you,” Beka said into her phone, “I’m waiting on the train now.” She stood on her tiptoes and peeked down the pitch black tunnel. “I don’t know why I just don’t work another 30 minutes and avoid this insane crowd,” she grumbled.
She heard a soft laugh from her friend. “I would agree we are surrounded by crazy people but it’s not exactly something I would shout out right now.” She tensed as she sensed an African-American give her a disapproving glance.
A squeak of wheels and a rush of air drew everyone’s attention to the tunnel. Expectation permeated the air as the train slowly became visible through the dark.
“Crap. It’s not my train,” Beka moaned into the phone, her voice raising a few octaves to be heard over the sudden rustling of the passengers around her. She had found, by trial and error, if she just stood her ground, people would move around her, like a stream slipping past a rock. She had first tried to maneuver out of the way when she first moved to the city, but after nearly getting knocked down by overzealous people, she now just stood her ground.
People began moving past her, a few jostled her elbow, or knocked her hard enough she had to step forward or lose her balance, as the train screamed to a stop. About 3/4 of the crowd slowly moved as one onto the train.
“I hope this doesn’t mean my train is behind schedule,” Beka yelled into the phone. “My train is usually the first to arrive, this is not a good sign.”
The noise on the platform began to dissipate as more and more passengers settled into their seats, or grabbed on to bars for support. Beka’s eyes casually ran over the faces. It never ceased to amaze her how she never saw a single person she knew. Ever. And she knew a lot of people since her job was such a high-profile position.
Her eyes glided past a group of Emo kids but then promptly boomeranged back as something caught her eye. “Helllo…” she mumbled into the phone.
“Hello to you, goof,” Beka’s friend responded back with a laugh.
Beka’s eyes widened and then narrowed as she tried to focus all of her attention on one girl in the midst of the Emo crowd. Her hair was darker and it was hard to tell what color eyes she had, especially since she was a ways away, but there was something eerily familiar about the girl.
Without knowing what she was doing, she found herself scurrying to get on the train. She just managed to slip past the closing doors. The swoosh, and soft snap, of the doors broke her trance.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Beka said, her voice shaking with nerves, “but I just got on the wrong train.”
“Are you mad?” her friend asked.
“I’m beginning to wonder,” she responded. She began excusing herself through the crowd and inched closer to the group of people she saw on the platform.
“There’s this girl,” she began, her speech slow, uncertain. “I feel like I’ve seen her before.”
“If I had a dime every time I’ve heard you say that,” her friend responded. “I swear, you pretty much know everyone in this city.’
“Not quite everyone,” Beka’s gaze remained zeroed in on the girl. After a few moments, she was close enough to hear them laughing. The girl was the center of attention and all of the people surrounding her hung on her every word.
“Hello? Hello? Beka are you …”
She lost the connection. She stuffed her mobile into her bag and continued to study the girl in between bodies.
The back of the girl’s head is facing Beka. She began inching around people in order to see the girl’s face.
“So, when we do this, we need to be smart about it. No throwing things. No shouting obscenities … Troy, I’m looking at you.” The girl spoke softly, but with authority. Her comment prompted soft laughs around her. “We join hands. This will show solidarity in our protest. We will calmly educate anyone who will listen. Again, no aggressive confrontations.”
Beka watched from a distance. She watched her body language, her facial expressions. She listened to the tone of her voice. She was sitting down, but Beka could tell she was small, probably not more than 5’5 – her height. Her hair was pitch black and she most likely used a whole eyeliner pencil on her eyes, and yet, she reminded Beka of herself, the morning after a long night. Her hairstyle was choppy and haphazardly pulled up at the sides, most likely in an attempt to keep her neck cool.
Beka moved closer. Did she have the tell-tale mole just under her left ear? She had to know. If this was who she thought it was, all the months of planning, and looking, were finally over.
She tuned out what the others were talking about, her sole focus was on this girl. She moved closer still. The train went through a tunnel and the lights temporarily dimmed. When they came back up, she was not only by the girl, she had crouched down in order to put her face at eye level.
“I figure we have about 30 minutes to really make an impact before the police show up,” the girl continued. “Dolly, do you have the …” she paused as she sensed Beka’s presence. She lifted an eyebrow and looked at her.
Beka saw the mole and suddenly couldn’t breathe.
“Um, hello?” the girl said. Her voice was more curious than annoyed. She leaned back as Beka leaned further in to verify what she suspected. “Hey. What is your problem?” she asked.
Beka visibly swallowed and shifted her eyes from the girl’s neck to meet her eyes. They were greenish brown with flecks of gold, the same as hers.
“Hi,” Beka croaked out.
The crowd around the girl suddenly grew quiet as they acknowledged Beka’s intrusion.
Beka continued, “I think you’re my sister.”