Being a woman in publicS

Sometimes you just want to go home, but you're stuck being a woman in public.

You get on the train after a long day. The doors are trying to close and a guy jams them open to let on another guy. A man in a military uniform takes his earbuds out and says to the door-holder, "Don't hold the door open."

"What did you say?"

"Don't hold the door open."

"Oh, who are you, man? Who are you?"

You take a seat as far away from the conflict as possible and try to disappear into your Kindle, averting your eyes. Everything finally calms down.

The door-holder, who's already proven himself to have zero qualms about confronting strangers, is looking at you. You can see him in your peripheral vision and you can feel him looking. You're at a distance, but your hair is pretty bright and you're wearing lipstick so you know he noticed you. Keep reading, keep looking down. You briefly wish you were less attractive or had mousy hair or had an invisibility cloak. He keeps looking at you.

The person on the inside of your seat needs to get off. You hold your breath as you let them out and you move in, thinking of all the things you'll say and do when he tries to sit down next to you and talk to you when you just want to be left alone.

You exhale when an older woman rushes to take the seat you've vacated. You're safe and insulated by the window now.

Door-holder exits at the next stop and the tension leaves with him.

It's only been a few minutes, but this is what goes through your head when you're existing as a woman in public.