by Samantha Steiner
It was a weekday, sunny but winter, and I was in my hooded green coat. I approached the subway platform just as a man was leaving, but he wasn’t leaving, he was walking toward me. He had a hand on my arm, stroking the fabric of my coat, and his head leaned too close: a thin face, a deep umber, salt and pepper scruff, eyes that emanated permanent confusion. “Don’t touch me,” I screamed, and yanked my elbow back. He walked away. From a distance, a woman with a handbag over one shoulder asked if I was okay. Her skin was umber, too. I answered yes, and thank you, and I meant the thank you but maybe not the yes. I was taking inventory of how my own beige hands were covered by my gloves, my mouth by my scarf, my face by my hood, how the only slice of skin that man could have seen was the area around my eyes, how he might have seen youth and grief and he might not have seen anything at all, just as I might have failed to see him.
Samantha Steiner has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program and The Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. Her short story “My Closet” is forthcoming in Best Microfiction 2021. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Steiner_Reads.