23 October 2004

At eight a.m., they were filled with more energy than anyone else on the train. Their voices carried across the train car, although they were only talking to each other--they were seated in three adjacent seats--or to the boys who were sitting directly across from them. "Yeah, that!" The beautiful one asked the boys to keep her jacket in his locker. There was much discussion, and finally, he agreed.

Giggles. Louder laughter. The boys teasing, and shrieking from the seats across. It made me miss being sixteen. I knew that they were going to Brooklyn Tech.

At Fulton, I rose, as did they. At the door, the girls stood in the front, boys behind them. The beautiful one tugged her hair impatiently as she waited for the doors to open. Olive skin, long, dark, wavy hair, bright clear eyes. Lip gloss hovered outside the edges of her lips.

The second one I did not pay attention to. It was the third that caught me.

The third girl wore a black headscarf, in accordance with her religion. A delicate scarf, with scalloped edges. While her hair was hidden, it was obvious that the true beauty was in her face. Her dark eyes were framed with mascara and thick amounts of shadow and liner. Her bright fuchsia lips were bold, as her smile was shy. While she was wearing more makeup than anyone else on this train, on her, it did not make her look bad or slutty or cheap.

On my commute today, they were not there. I was running late and the train was oddly quiet.

I wondered who she was, the truly beautiful one. I wonder if her parents forced her to wear the scarf, or if she chose, or felt it was right. Did her parents know about this makeup, this generous and careful colors across her face? The work looked too intricate to have been done on the train. Did she, as I, sneak to a friend's house before school with absent or sleeping parents, and apply gobs of color to faces before school? Did she crouch behind a bush down the block from the train? Did she sit on the benches in the station, waiting for her friends, applying gentle strokes with small, soft brushes? Who was she anyway?

I remember right before the doors opened yesterday, how suddenly she had laughed. Nobody had said anything, but she did it anyway. The girls began laughing. "What? What's funny," one of the boys who I didn't look at asked.

I held back my laugh, and watched the girls exit the train and then through the turnstiles, and then we had parted our ways up different stairways, and different lives completely.

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