“What’s your name, pretty thing..?” asked the calculating man on the subway train.
“Iona!” yelled the man that accompanied her everywhere.
The calculating man backed off quickly and sat down next to the scratched up window. He concentrated his stare into the blackness of the tunnel, and didn’t dare turn back.
“Come back over here! Sit down with me!” barked the man as he grabbed her arm and rushed her over to some free seats.
The train sounded like it was moving a hundred miles per hour, as the carriage rattled clumsily through the dark.
A young woman looked over and Iona saw what she thought was pity in her eyes. They dazzled with water and fell downwards, and quickly changed when she glanced at the man. The water subsided as her eyes turned stonily hard. She had always observed other people on the train, and had gotten pretty good at imitating their curious behaviours.
She wondered where the woman might be going, and what she might do when she got there. The woman’s mind seemed occupied and easily distracted with everything around her.
The man swiped away on his phone and got locked into the ritual that he frequented throughout the day, so as today felt different from the other days, as most days she didn’t feel at all, she decided to act differently. Iona silently shifted her perfectly formed body up from the seat, and offered it to the woman that had been observing her as she silently passed her judgement.
She walked to the doors and peered into the black mirror to look at the man. He was locked into his tiny screen just as she knew he would be, so as soon as the black outside the carriage was shredded by coloured streaks of light, she prepared herself to exit the train. The train slowed and the platform slid into view, so she moved to stand directly in front of the doors and allowed herself to be shielded by the other commuters that stood up. The doors opened as the station tune chimed, and as she stepped off the train, she turned back around. Instead of using her rational mind, that she thought she had been using since she came into existence, she decided to wait rather than run, until the train doors had closed and she could watch the man disappear into the black tunnel.
The train doors slid closed and the woman whom had now taken her place, looked out at her with the same concerned eyes. Without shifting his gaze from his phone, the man grabbed the woman’s arm and squeezed it hard as he normally did, for no particular purpose other than a reminder.
The woman flinched, causing the man to look up as Iona never flinched. Iona stared at his shocked face disappearing into the dark and felt something happening to her own face.
“Mummy look! Look at that funny woman!” a small boy exclaimed as he rushed past with his mother.
“That’s not a woman!” his mother scolded as she pulled him away from the grinning figure. “I told you, they’re not like us!”
“But mummy, they’re just like us! Just look!”