What catches my eye is her indelible concentration. Almost a willed concentration. What is a young girl like her doing concentrating so hard on a ball of yarn? Her stitches are carefully executed, but her fingers move around the needles a little clumsily. She’s clearly not an expert at it; moving at lightning speed like it’s a race is not her style. But she is a perfectionist. Every few stitches she pats her knitted patch, as though checking to see if she’s doing it right; if it feels right. Once, she even raises the patch to her face and runs it carefully along her cheek. Is it soft enough? Is it tight enough? Is it enough, enough? What is she checking for? I wish I knew more about knitting.
Her eyebrows hold an almost constant furrow. She is pissed off about something, I immediately think. But the longer I look at this girl, dressed in all black, with the t-shirt labelling her as a 3 Minute Angel (along with a perky little halo), the more I am convinced of my misdiagnosis. Her dark hair is fanned out around her face as she slumbers into the train seat, framing her often-glistening eyes, initially hidden from me, beneath the furrowed brows. Poor little 3 Minute Angel. I daydream that I might be able to wipe away her heart sores in just 3 minutes.
I look at her a while, maybe too long, or too tenderly. She twitches a little in her seat and too suddenly she looks up and locks her eyes on mine. She fixes me with an accusatory stare but I can’t seem to look away. Thankfully, she does. When I next look up, I know she knows that I’ve been watching her. Maybe she even knows that I am writing about her. It is almost a wayward game of cat and mouse now. I look at her, she looks at me, I look away. She looks at me, I look at her, she looks away. Her pained eyes are methodically twitching in their sockets now, looking around the whole train carriage before landing on me again and again. I have unwittingly broken her intense concentration.
I start to feel nervous inside her stare, and simultaneously, as though I am bathing in a lovely vat of warm honey. Her sadness is enveloping me. And just as suddenly as she knew I was watching her, I realise what she is saying to me. Don’t pity me.