In order to feel feminine, she squeezes her ass cheeks together when she gets on the subway and makes eye contact with the man next to her. She is young, and he is not. She knows he is married because he wears a ring.
Recently, she has decided to look for rings on the subway. Pretty things with important bags have shiny rings with big, boxy stones. Older women have smaller rings, tarnished rings, or no rings. Men have bands, and she likes those more than the diamonds and their settings. She likes the way a strip of metal is welded together in a circle, then welded itself to a man in between his knuckles. A woman wears her ring with pride, but a man wears his with complacency. She likes a man’s complacency more than a woman’s pride.
The subway jerks, and she squeezes her hand around the pole while squeezing her ass cheeks together. She is crowded and uncomfortable. Because she is so short, hands came past her to grab the pole and her body is forced into an awkward angle. She stares at her hand on the pole and tries to assess it and feels decidedly less feminine. Her fingernails are bitten down and her cuticles look ragged and pink. Her hands are pale.
She makes eye contact with the husband again, just to see if he will look back. He does, and she half-smiles. He looks away, ashamed, and inches closer to the doors. The train bucks again before it comes to a halt. He hurries out into the crowded station.
It’s hard to feel feminine on the subway, she decides. She tries to catch a look at herself in the darkened windows, but it is too crowded. Her back is sandwiched between a fat woman and a baby carriage, and she cringes at the immediacy of her childhood and her dissent into age and weight.
She wears a ring on her right hand, a band with an inset diamond flake. It is so small, only she is aware of its presence, and she is comforted with its indiscernible weight on her hand.