there is a glow about her. 

she’s radiant, all thick hair and soft skin,bundled up in warm boots and a green scarf very early on monday morning. she comes through the door facing me, just as the conductor is telling me which trains i can transfer to at 42nd street. the list is long and i can’t take my eyes off of her, can’t tear myself away from the rosiness of her cheeks, the faint smile she wears on her lips.

an older man wearing a heavy gold ring offers her his seat. 

she accepts.

she pulls out a lipstick and a book, one i’ve heard of but have never read. she runs the color over her lips with one hand and without a mirror, and opens her book to the marked page. she soaks in the syllables, soaks in the precious silence of being alone.

her hands drift downward, where they come to rest out of habit on her swollen belly. i know she is counting down the minutes until she is a mother, reveling in her the ache of her fingers, so swollen she wears her wedding ring around her neck. i know she is counting down the minutes until her life changes, when she may no longer have time to ride the subway and read this book. she is close to the end and i can see her next literary endeavor peeking eagerly out of the corner of her purse. 

“the alchemist.” i know this one. 

suddenly, her eyes shoot up from the page, sparkling. she wedges the book between her legs as both of her hands press against her belly. she’s gleaming, her face full and bright and ecstatic.

she motions to a woman standing across the crowded car, one i hadn’t noticed before.

“caroline!” she gasps, “she’s kicking! she just kicked!”

somehow, seamlessly, the crowd parts for this woman, who, dropping everything in her haste, kneels down and presses her face to her partner’s abdomen. 

the rest of us hold our breath.

“oh,” says caroline, after a long moment, “oh, i can feel her.”

she lifts her face upward, and they are kissing and crying and people are coming and going and the book, forgotten, falls silently to the floor.