A Diversion (Slightly Mass Transit Related)
Dario should have known that it would be on a crowded subway car that he would meet her again. His search for the girl from the movie theater had taken him all over Boston and Cambridge without any luck. He had just been to the grocery store and was loaded down with shopping bags. The train pulled into Copley and Dario wrestled his bags into an empty seat. It was hot and smelled like sweat and poor air-conditioning. He sighed and reached up, and gripped the metal bar tightly.
“C’mon, guys.” A young woman pulled two little kids into the train just as the doors closed. She let go of their hands and grasped them by their shoulders, steering them into the crowd. Dario looked over at the chattering kids and their tired-looking mother, and he felt hot all over. It was her. Suddenly, all the searching he had been doing for the past couple of weeks seemed like it had been too serious, too hard. Dario hefted his bags and motioned to her.
“Hey, you want to sit?” he asked. She nodded and told the children to sit down.
“Thank you,” she said, finally looking over at him. She frowned, and she narrowed her eyes just as she had done the night at the movies. “Hey,” she said. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m going home,” Dario told her. “You know, we should talk. I gotta ask you about them.” Dario jerked his head toward the kids.
“They are none of your business,” she said softly. “And neither am I.” She bent down and said to her daughter, “Push over, Reines, so I can sit.” The little girl shoved her brother, who started to cry, and the woman sighed and scolded her, lifting the boy onto her lap. Dario watched this exchange and smiled. He steadied the bags between his legs and tapped her on the shoulder with his free hand.
“Will you at least tell me your name?” he asked her. “Please?”
“Leave me alone,” she said through clenched teeth. The little girl turned around in her seat and gave Dario a wide smile.
“Her name is Mari!” the little girl shrieked. “Mari Mari Mari!”
Mari pulled her by the sleeve back down into her seat. “Reina,” she said severely. “What have I told you about talking with strangers? No TV tonight.” The girl turned to Dario again and smiled at him quickly, before shoving her brother for the second time. Dario hid his face in his arm and shut his eyes, trying to commit her name to memory. The train came to an abrupt halt at the Fenway stop and jolted Dario out of his thoughts. Mari shepherded her kids out of the train. Dario snatched up his bags and nudged the doors open with his foot. He ran up the steps to catch up with her, but there was an elderly couple slowly making their way up the stairs, and by the time Dario got to the top of the stairs, the woman and her kids were gone.