By Galia Shkedi
An evocative piece of flash fiction meant to draw the reader into the author’s encounter with a so-called subway creep.
“What’s your name?” he asks the girl in front of me. This petite girl, standing firmly, holding onto the overhead railing. There’s no way her arm isn’t tired.
She looks over, with a nervous, almost-laugh.
The creep, an oldish white guy, early sixties or late fifties, wearing a slightly dirty, oversized blue coat, looks back with piercing light eyes.
“No reason, just wondering,” he says with a pause. “My name’s Michael,” he adds, with what seems to be a smile under his mask.
She nods and looks away, back at her phone. Her fierceness hasn’t wavered, but I think she’s nervous. I would be. We all know what happens with these subway creeps.
“This is Jackson Heights, Roosevelt Ave,” the MTA loudspeaker booms. People start getting up and I notice an empty seat in the opposite corner. I want to tell her, Go sit there. Get away from him. She gets off instead. I wait to see him follow her and the line of people off the subway car, hoping he’ll get away from me. He does not. The guy next to me gets up and off the train. In his place, alleged Michael sits. I feel him staring at me, and sneak a look only to catch his unnerving gaze on me.
Please don’t talk to me, I think. Do I get up? Do I move to a different seat? The other side of the car? My body on edge, I try to shrink myself away from him.
I grab my calculus worksheet from my bag and plug the last problem into my calculator. As I finish up and write my name across the top, I realize, now this creep knows who I am. Hurriedly, I stuff my folder back in my bag.
“This is Forest Hills, Seventy-First Ave,” the loudspeaker finally crackles. I can’t get off that subway soon enough.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
I wrote this piece during a pair session with my mentor, Laura. We were doing a mini-‘unit’ on flash fiction and were brainstorming, starting with interesting or indelible situations from our lives. I didn’t like the ideas I had come up with, but a few days before our following pair session, I had a less-than-lovely experience with a so-called subway creep. I was inspired by that scenario and wrote a flash fiction about it during our session. What started with a ten-minute free write became an edited, finished work.
Galia Shkedi is a teen in high school whose main interests are writing, music and cuddling her dog. Whether it's journalism, poetry or a personal essay, she views writing as a way to transfer her thoughts onto a page, and share whatever story is worth telling to the world.