It is late morning on a hot day and the train is half empty. I know this empty stare set in a round face. This surrender I have witnessed thousands of times here.
She stands up slowly, gathers her bags and exits.
I stand, two zucchini dangling in front of me. An old women is in front of us, not sure one of her tomatoes is worth buying. She allows it, after muttering for some time. Her bag stamped, a different women weasels her bag onto the scale - a few bananas she tosses in front of me. I make one of those sounds New Yorkers make - something between clearing my throat and a collection of half-spoken swearing.
She stares at me.
I shrug my shoulders, as if to say well?
The young man who weighs the vegetables says nothing.
"Ya stayut." I say (I am standing here).
She says nothing.
"Kak etta problem?" I ask (what's the problem).
The round faced women sighs and grabs at her two bananas, taking them off the scale.
The young man weighs mine, and I feel anger growing in me.
"Etta bolshoi mir." I say (it is a big world).
She gets her bananas weighed.
"Puchimu? I ask (why?).
She sneers for a moment.
"Puchimi ludi ni mogut haroshi?" I call out as she stalks off. (Why can't people be friendly).
My blood racing, E's hand squeezed tight in mine, I look at our shopping list.
"Dad, there are cameras here." E whispers to me. "They can see us."
"We didn't do anything wrong." I tell her, full voice.
She looks up at me.
"Milk." I announce. "We need milk."
I see the woman, skittering around the shelves. She is in no rush, staring randomly at the bread aisle.
Music is warbling from speakers. I recognize the muzak version of the song - I Will Survive.
A few days later, I pass two policemen and a young man in the street. He has a nice bicycle, and they are detaining him, asking for his passport, his registration. He sweats in the morning sun, his round face framed by short black hair.
I think of the woman in the store, so desperate to feel more important than someone else. I think of the men that get stopped constantly here. I see them, heads forced down as they are shoved into police cars. I see them in messy groups by the train station. I see them with their children, on playgrounds pushing swings high in the air.
I think of the woman on the train, and the smell of defeat on her.