No One Was Supposed To Notice
She stood watching. Expression blank. Eyes soft. The wheel of thought behind them, turning. Wisps of blonde hair laughing; showing off for the summer sun, dancing in the afternoon breeze; gentle. They were beautiful, whispering inaudibly, “I have a secret.”
And in this, the eyes held the hidden smile of someone silent and in agreement. (Like the woman in that old oil painting. The one everyone recognizes immediately.)
For a moment, she became distracted by a piece of newspaper blowing past her feet. The front page of The Times, pausing for just an instant, pierced her vision with the fraction of a headline,
“…Hundreds Dead In Afternoon Bombing….”
The paper turned over and continued up 6th Avenue, scratching the sidewalk.
The eyes flashed, hardened and became sharply acute. The blank expression opened to reveal only a disruption. She bit her lower lip and sucked it back in, breathing, arching her neck upwards. A posture wired from ballet and modified over time to initiate a kind of physical alignment. She exhaled slowly. Focus. Then inhaled steadily, silent. Inside, conjuring grace and strength. It would soon emanate from her, almost tangible for those who came in close contact. This had become a shield, a defensive stance before engaging in critical action. She assumed it because she did not know what else to do.
The thoughts had resumed their slow turning, reviewing what had happened. What she had missed. What got her trapped in the first place. Do not go insane.
She had left off with the objective reasons behind the recent disappearance of a close ally. Vanished off the radar, there had been no communication. No response to recent requests for status reports or confirmation. In their language, he had chosen radio silence, done only once before and in a volatile predicament. Something had gone wrong. Something had happened.
Several blocks uptown a van turned into traffic. From the second floor office, a fax machine turned on, his vision was failing, but he could see her.
The woman standing vigilant, taught and tall. Long legs made longer by the narrow high heel of black designer shoes. Perfect legs stretching upwards, forever, meeting a slim A-line skirt several inches above the knee. Teasing but ladylike, they disappeared inside. The rest left to imagination. The body underneath the tailored, sliced grey suit.
If there ever was a time in life to be alive, this was hers. Rising in the ranks of the world, a young woman with a brilliant future, surveying the landscape from a hilltop.
He thought this as he watched her.
The van blared its horn in the midtown traffic. Someone wearing a red hat came out of the subway, blinded for a moment by the sun and the glare off of the avenue.
This is what you see with a lazy glance. Look closer.