Man Named Amy
By Veronika Kowalski
I’m in a subway car in on a dimly-lit B train. There are a couple of people standing here and there. I’m reading, or doing a workbook, or something. I realized I had fifteen dollars on my lap; a ten and a five. I stuffed them into my coat pocket.
The man next to me smiled. “Hi, I’m Amy.”
I started shouting. I looked at my dad, who was sitting a few feet away. I started calling him. My voice was hoarse. He looked around a bit, but his eyes didn’t meet mine. I kept screaming, looking for somewhere else to sit. One lady saw me and pointed at the two chairs at the end of the car. Good idea. The man named Amy started coming toward me. If he sat down next to me, I would be trapped. Bad idea. For a couple of minutes, I switched seats, changed places, tried to get in touch with my dad. Eventually, I ended up sitting in the front row of these three rows with three chairs each, all facing the same direction. In the middle row, there was Tahani, and in the third row, there was Allan, and my dad. I talked to Tahani. “Where are you going?”
“I’m going trick-or-treating at Union Square.”
“Hey, me too! Are you going with Jada, Nawar, and-” Suddenly, I saw the man named Amy was sitting next to my friend. I started screaming, out of fear this time. Everyone else started screaming, too, at each other. It must have been really pleasant for the other people on the train.
“See? That’s what I mean,” remarked Allan.
I paused. “Wait, Allan, are you the one who’s been following me this whole time?” It was darker than I thought in the subway car.
He cringed. “It just goes to show how certain characteristics can make someone look more menacing than they actually are, and how some people can overreact.”
“You wrote about this in your Spec article, didn’t you?” I was buying time to think of a legitimate answer. “Well, people don’t usually smile at me on the subway. And I don’t like talking to people on the subway I don’t know. The fact that he smiled at me, introduced himself to me, right after I put some money away, that was sort of telling. So I think my reaction was rational.”