The subway doors opened with a hiss, as a wave of summer heat rolled along the floor, crept up my legs. The bell chimed twice, a muffled voice overhead that warned to stay clear. Then the doors closed once more. The air returned to the cool even temperature it had been just a minute prior. I crossed my legs with a sigh. The commute home from work dragged on to the next stop.
A man, no taller than four and a half feet, eyed me, as he pushed onto the seat to my right. I kept my gaze on my book, despite the fact that he continued to stare. My thumb fingered the edge of the page.
Flip. Flip. He still stared.
I blinked. Then turned to glance at the man. He was perfectly ordinary, when it came to men on a subway. Longish curled hair that matched his muddy brown eyes. He held a cane in one hand. A fancy suit with wing-tipped shoes. Wing-tipped shoes in teal and white. Hadn’t seen something like that in forever. A deep scar cut right through one eyebrow and I got the notion that he was missing a few teeth, even though he didn’t smile. Just stared.
Flip. I got back to my reading.
“Excuse me?” My hands feel to my lap, the book forgotten. Why on earth did this man think it was my birthday?
“Happy birthday. It’s today.”
“No, it isn’t. You must have me confused with someone else.” I picked up my book.
“Yes it is. You’re Lily Beamer and today is your birthday.”
Air stuck in my throat. This was weird. “How do you know my name?” My eyes narrowed but he didn’t flinch.
“Oh, I know all about you, Lily Beamer. First and foremost, that today is your birthday.”
My mouth opened but he cut me off.
“There are many kinds of birthdays, you know. There are earthly births and spiritual births. And other kinds of births, too. A birth day signifies a change in life, a shift in the world around you that sets you apart. Makes you different.” He leaned a few inches closer. “Today is your birthday, Lily Beamer.”
He lifted his cane, dropped it down hard. Then, he vanished.
I gasped with a glance around. Had anyone else seen? The man beside me just disappeared into thin air! How could no one have noticed?
My heart raced and I dropped my book. It skidded across the floor. I swallowed and my hands shook.
Hands. My hands… A spark. Electricity passed between them. Eyes wide, I stifled a cry. Flash, another jump of spark.
I jumped to my feet, panic in my bones.
The train stopped. Everyone around stopped. Not a soul breathed, not a single thing moved. A piece of paper that fell to the floor beside me had stopped moving mid-air.
Time had stopped.
I had stopped time.
The little man was right. Today was my birthday.
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016