Last week, I saw a woman in the subway. Not a particularly beautiful woman, mousy, really, with no real personality, nothing on her face that attracted the eye at first glance and kept it there.
Tiny eyes, pudgy cheek, no chin, short straggly black hair. Clothes that had seen better days– a worn pink t-shirt, a sweat jacket on top, several sizes too big.
I kept my eyes traveling downwards, and saw the hands on her lap– strange little limbs, childlike, with four fingers each, the middle finger a stump. I then realized why I could see her across the crowd and not her neighbors sitting to one side. She sat on a wheelchair, which gave her extra height.
And then I figured out why she had caught my eye. She hadn’t fallen asleep like I’d imagined, hadn’t nodded off—she was listening to music on her phone, and the slow, focused rhythm of her head had drawn me to her.
As the train sped from one station to another emptying as it went, the head picked up pace and her face broke into smiles. By the time she pressed a button and wheeled herself out of the train at the station just before mine, I was fascinated.
I wanted to walk out and follow her, find out her story—who she lived with and where, what was her voice like, what she did for a living.
A week after, I still want those answers…and being a writer, I would do what I imagine most writers do—supply the answers myself, flesh out this woman in a story.
Have you passed by a stranger you could not forget, for whatever reason? What did you do to satisfy your curiosity?