I’d been glancing her way for a couple of weeks. Just over there: in the seat underneath the scrolling screen. Her black hair, hazel eyes – mouth and nose covered by the pink surgical mask. Her small, delicate frame made her look like a child. Those eyes told a different story.
Think she might have noticed me. I was so clumsy at this sort of thing. She probably thought I was a stalker. However, my mind was made up. I had to speak to her.
“…Next stop Otemachi…” flashed the sign.
This is where she always got off. It was a stop early for me, but that didn’t matter.
Out of the train, up the escalators. I kept pace. I’d no idea what I was doing. What if she stopped? What was I going to say? Hadn’t really thought it through properly. Typical, but it was too late.
The station concourse was heaving. We somehow ended up at the waiting room near Starbucks. Together. Alone. She stood there. She knew I’d been following her. I approached slowly – still no idea what to say. A single delicate finger against her masked lips said no words were required. She moved in close. She was only a tiny thing. So tiny. So pale. Stroking my arm, reaching up to my face. Touching. Sensing. She gently lifted her mask and began to smell. Everywhere. All over.
‘No,’ she whispered.
The door flew open as a mother and a child crashed in screaming insults at each other. I only looked away for a moment, but she was gone.
As I ride the subway this morning the headlines tell of a man found castrated and garroted at Otemachi station. Reports were already linking him with the murder of a tiny, hazel eyed girl two weeks ago. They’d found her pathetic, crumpled body in the waiting room near Starbucks
Her name was Mayuko.
As I look up, the seat underneath the sign is empty.
Mayuko had found her man.
These 333 words, based on the third definition of the word ‘mask‘ , form my entry into the Trifecta 94 writing challenge.
This piece became my third effort to get into the Trifecta winner’s circle, achieving a second place. As ever I am flattered that the judges saw something in my work.