A Writer’s Book of Days — Day 18

Prompt: Write about a sideways glance (313 words)


When she gets on the train, the first thing he notices is how she holds her purse; with both hands on the looped handle, fisting it in front of her pencil skirt. He notices this because it’s unusual (how can she walk without the bag knocking into her knees every time she takes a step?) but then he begins noticing other things about her, like the run in her black stockings, the scuff on the toe of her left shoe, the way her eyes shift above the red scarf covering her mouth and nose, as though something more sinister is at play than just the uncertainty of finding an empty seat.

She finally settles on one directly across from him, crossing her ankles and placing the bag on her lap, still gripping it tightly.

“What’cha got in there, Mary Poppins?”

Those shifty eyes shoot up to meet his, and he’s shocked at the very quick but very real terror he sees there — but then she blinks it away and lowers her scarf from her mouth. “Pardon?”

He decides to go easy on her this time. “That’s a pretty big bag. You going on a trip?”

For a moment, she just stares at him, hand still pinching the scarf away from her face. Then she smiles and gives a jerky bobblehead nod. “Yes, I’m going on a trip. I’m visiting my brother in the suburbs.”

Against his will, he notices one more thing — that she’s pretty. Real pretty. A soft kind of pretty, like fluffy icing topping a cupcake. Her hair is completely covered by her cap except for one auburn tendril that curls around her right ear. Her eyes, so nervous, are a brown that must warm her during these frigid winter months. And her lips are chapped, but dotted with freckles at the corners, giving her a youthful, almost child-like appearance.

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