The metro slowly screeched to a halt at Grovesnor Strathmore, the doors opening to allow the transaction of bodies to take place with the minute-long stop at the metro station. As people poured into the car, a petite girl caught Malachi’s eye. She was slightly chubby, and had curly hair that looked like two fire puffs on each side of her head. He guessed that she must’ve been about 8 or 9 years old. The boy who accompanied her looked like he could be Malachi’s age. He was slim like Malachi and about as tall, but had the same red hair as the little girl and a smattering of freckles across his nose.
By comparison, Malachi’s hair was a sandy brown. It seemed closer to blonde after the tan he’d gotten while out shooting ball yesterday. Now his greenish brown eyes stood out even more. He looked around the car at the various riders fanning themselves, wiping their brows, finally cooling off in their brief reprieve from the D.C., heat and humidity.
His eyes were drawn back to the little girl. She sat in her bucket seat quietly, a small grin on her face as she stared at something invisible on the blue linoleum floors.
Malachi followed her line of sight and noticed a small green and black caterpillar inching it’s way along the edge of the car away from the doors.
He wondered how something so small could hold the little girl’s attention.
As an only child, Henry had always heard rumors from his classmates that having siblings was the worst thing that could happen to you. They stole your stuff, broke your stuff, lost your stuff, and mistreated your stuff like it was theirs. And from what he heard, little sisters were the worst.
All of his friends had said he was lucky to not have a little brother or sister, that they wished they could be an only child too.
Malachi understood what they meant. There were perks to not having to share. He essentially got the best of everything–food, the house, his parents’ attention and money. Christmas alone was ridiculous. But even though he had never admitted it to anyone, he had always hoped to have someone to spend time with and teach things to, like tying shoelaces, shooting three pointers, or reading. He had hoped to have a little brother or sister who would one day be his friend just like his aunts and uncles were with his own parents.
But last year, his parents had gotten a divorce after three years of fighting, name calling, and slamming doors. He had given up hope of being a big brother when that happened, determined to ignore the disappointment as if it was a gaposis in a dress shirt. He’d actually given up hope for a lot of things he would probably never tell anyone.
Lost in thought, Malachi was surprised to hear Bethesda announced as the next stop. He grabbed his SAT book and dropped it in his bookbag, doublechecking to make sure he’d brought along his French textbook. He had two hours of volunteer work to do at the library before his tutoring session with one of the kids he’d met last week.
He looked up and noticed the little girl was now staring at him with same small grin. Malachi smiled back slightly before standing up and moving toward the door. He steadied himself against one of the silver poles as the car shuddered to a stop. As the doors opened he gave a slight wave goodbye to the little girl he’d probably never see again and headed into the thick humidity.