A Face in The Crowd

The other cars went by faster and faster. Her hair was being whipped back and forth across her face and no matter how hard she tried, securing it into place looked like a futile task. She glanced over at the other cars passing by, with people inside, wondering where they all go and if it’s somewhere nice and cozy like a home or a gathering of friends or some unpleasant meeting with the new boss or an overdue visit at the mother in law. Once or twice she spied a strange face staring at her intently from the window of a passing car. It appeared and disappeared before she could take a good look at it, and she felt pricked by the needle of curiosity. When the traffic slowed down for a short while, she was able to notice the woman’s round face with the hair pulled back so severely it almost looked like a second skin, revealing a large forehead.

She was a little annoyed by that look and stared back, but before she got to see the reaction of the woman, the car moved along taking the woman’s face with it. The noise of the street distracted her for a while, the motorcycles speeding by, one almost colliding with a tuk-tuk that had decided to stop just then on the side of the road, without warning. Her eyes wandered and the face of that strange woman appeared again, on the passenger window of a black Mercedes crawling along in the traffic. This time she could just make out the big eyes and full mouth before the car moved along. Was it anger in the woman’s eyes, or just a questioning look, she couldn’t be sure. All she knew was that nobody had stared at her like that and she didn’t like it, not one bit. It was almost like the guy across from her, stealing a glance every now and then when he thought she wouldn’t notice. She caught his eyes once and stared at him defiantly and he blinked rapidly and looked away.

Her phone rang and she fumbled with the purse before she found it and pushed the answering button. Whoever it was, had already hung up – wrong number probably.

Her eyes went back to watch the spectacle of the street: a motorcycle carrying a whole family, the father driving and a little boy in front of him, mother at the back with a baby in her arms, sandwiched between her and the driver. Only the man was wearing a helmet, a bright blue one, with the visor pushed back, like a knight getting ready for the tournament. Right behind came a woman pushing a food cart, a big rope of sausages swinging with the movement. Who would want to buy that, she always wondered and as usual, there was no answer. She tried to think back, to remember if she had actually seen anybody buying that kind of food from the street and couldn’t remember a single time.

A gray van approached, its windows tinted black, the face of the woman painted on its windows. This time she tried to take a good look and she found the woman frowning at her, then the face melted into sadness. Who are you and why are you sad, she wanted to ask but before she could think of anything else, her stop had come and she was getting off, not resisting one last look at the face in the window, maybe to say good-bye. She smiled, and the woman smiled too and before she knew it, the grey van had disappeared into the rushing madness.

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3 Responses to A Face in The Crowd

  1. Esa says:

    This has a film-like quality. Your pacing captures the rapid movements and short image clips. At once, a possibly sinister story unfolding, and then another shot
    of a family outing. Moments captured amidst the bustle

  2. Delia says:

    And what a bustle it was! The street is quite a spectacle, every day I get to see something new. If I’m not reading, that is. 😉

    • Esa says:

      It must be hard not to keep one eye on the page, and one on the world.
      Watching people can be so rivetting. Especially from a distance, where it isn’t so much like eavesdropping.

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