The girl was black. Black skin, black skirt, black blouse and black sunglasses. The only white thing was the cord of her earphone coming from her ear and going to her black bag. I wondered about the sunglasses. We were on the train. Outside, the morning was cloudy with a touch of melancholy, which made the interior shadowish. She couldn’t possibly see properly. Maybe her eyes were sensitive to light, and the sunglasses were for protection. I would never know. What I did know was that I couldn’t see her eyes.
A minute ago, I was sitting next to the aisle, writing on my laptop. In the back of my brain it registered that the train had stopped at a station, but I was too busy with my novel. The girl just materialised in my peripheral vision. I saw her black socks and black skirt first. I looked up and saw her unsmiling, stoic face and her black glasses. The girl was just standing there without saying a word. She didn’t ask if the seat next to me was free. She didn’t ask me to move, so she could slip in.
However, I guessed what she wanted, and I stood up to give her room. Which didn’t happen as I expected. I had to stand up and step aside, next to my seat to let her pass to the window seat. But she was standing right on that spot, and she needed to step back so I could stand up. For a long moment, it seemed like she wouldn’t move. Finally she did, so I could give her the space, and she could sit down. The whole time I had the feeling that I was in her way, and I should have moved faster, and I shouldn’t have disturbed her ways.
She sat down without a word. No thank you, not a nod, no nothing. Then she sat motionless for the next thirty minutes. Which was OK for me, because I could continue writing undisturbed.
The whole thing made me thinking. What if it went down differently?
I would write immersed in the story’s flow. I would realise that a black girl in all black stood next to me. I would look up slowly with dreamy eyes, still preoccupied with my writing, and for a while I would stare at a point in space behind her, then my eyes would return to the screen and I would continue typing. Would she ask me if she could sit? Or she would go away? Would I be the jerk, not understanding what she didn’t communicate, anyway?
I would write immersed in the story’s flow. I would realise that a black girl in all black stood next to me. I would look up, smile at her, and ask if I can help her. Would she smile back and ask me if she could sit on the empty seat next to me? Would she bark at me: “Move!”?
I would let her sit, and I stopped writing and started chatting, and I wouldn’t shut up even if she was visibly dying of annoyance.
It could have gone many ways, and all of them would seem more normal than it actually felt. I was wondering if it had to do something with the modern teenagers not giving a fuck about social norms. Or maybe the girl was overly introvert. I would never know, because as polite as I always am, I just followed what my social brain dictated. But I still wonder how it could have gone down if I decided not to.