On The Q Train

Tears streamed down her face, and her shoulders heaved in un- controllable spasms. She slouched heavily back when the doors closed, and fell backwards a little when they reopened unex- pectedly. The sob became audible with her falter and a snort, and judging eyes responded with stares under the guise of turn- ing the page or shuffling to the next song. I, too, glanced to my left. I saw her crinkled blue shirt with pit stains and red lipstick that looked falsely strong against her pale complexion and overcome figure. Even slouched, she looked pretty, but the kind of pretty that you judge as being superficial, so, I went back to playing Angry Birds. The train rounded the corner and flung all not holding on to the right. The same girl whose eyes screamed frustration and pain fell forward onto a man in skinny jeans, an Animal Collective shirt, and dark black frames. Bothered, he turned away. The white haired man in a suit and tie sitting next to me tapped the girl through the bars. She didn’t respond. He tapped harder and she wheeled around with a look of total frustration and surrender. He stood up and motioned for her to sit. She looked stunned, and then a look of gratitude poured over her face. She whispered thank you, sighed deeply and vic- toriously, and sat down while I edged over to make room. The man, who could have just walked away, asked her if she needed anything, and shaking her head, said with growing strength “I can get through this.”

Chapter 32 (Provoke a Smile), page 198, 100 Ways to Make History

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