Canal Street Station



Scene Title Canal Street Station
Synopsis Stranger things than strangers sometimes ride the New York Subway at night.
Date October 27, 2020


Despite the autumn weather above ground, the subway car Nova Leverett sits in is overcrowded, making it uncomfortably warm as it rattles toward Manhattan from the south. Too many bodies throng together in the center aisle so she can’t see the map above the seats across the way,
nor the platforms through the windows when the train rolls to a stop, but she knows the route by heart. Not that she hasn't fallen into her own daydreams or memories before and missed it completely — walking that extra couple of blocks because she wasn't paying attention has happened to her more than once, but no New Yorker worth their salt hasn't done the same.

At least that's what the student tells herself.

Nova pulls at the scarf around her neck to loosen it, wishing she had taken off her outwear a few stops back. At this point, it isn't worth the effort. By the time she gets her coat off, it’ll be time to get off the train just to put it all back on again in order to face the cold, rainy evening streetside. Instead, she tries to take her mind off of the warm humidity of the subway car by focusing on the music that courses through the wires of the headphones she wears — her way of studying the new Vivaldi concerto she’s learning. The fingers of her left hand move subtly on her knee as she recalls the positions of the chords — some by heart, but some by ear and guesswork. She has some practicing to do.

She considers pulling out the sheet music, but just then the train slows to a stop and some of its passengers exit, more than the new passengers who enter — it's still not enough that everyone has a seat. When an elderly woman nears the bank of seats, Nova glances down at the seated passengers to see if perhaps someone else will do the right thing first. No one else does, so she hops up and smiles at the woman, gesturing to her seat. She can't hear the woman's words but recognizes the 'thank you,' and murmurs "No problem."

Standing now, Nova wraps her hand around the metal pole in the middle of the aisle, and finds herself at eye-level with some of the other passengers. Though she’s not a native New Yorker, she’s been here long enough she takes on the vague ‘staring-into-space’ look most strangers do on the train, letting her gaze drift several yards in front of her rather than on anything close by.

But at the end of the car, by the other set of doors, a young woman stands in almost the same posture, her hand on the pole at the same angle as Nova's. The stranger's hair is dark and thick, a blunt cut at her collarbone. She wears a black coat, her hands are wrapped in fingerless gloves. Nova can’t see her face. But her focus is drawn to the stranger, keeping her from her intended thousand-yard stare. She’s not sure why. There’s something about the other woman that seems…


A nearby man, in an expensive suit and an expensive hair cut that suggests he might be a Wall Street broker, catches her eye and smiles, clearly thinking he’s the target of her attention. Nova looks away, cheeks turning red. Pulling out her phone, Nova scrolls through the feed, pausing when she sees an article about Nicole Miller. She reads for a few minutes, before daring to look back at the girl in the black coat.

This time, the other woman faces Nova’s direction, though her wide blue eyes veer off to the windows. The two women do not make eye contact.

Nova manages not to scream, but her gasp for breath draws a few eyes in her direction.

Both the elderly woman and a man beside her stand from their seats, their mouths moving but drowned out by Vivaldi's Adagio in C Minor. Nova shakes her head, but doesn’t dare to speak.

The woman is her, or at least her identical.

The differences are superficial: her hair is nearly black; Nova’s tawny gold. Her makeup is darker. Her clothing is shabbier. It’s like looking in the mirror — if she were wearing a Halloween costume.

Nova slowly moves in that direction, apologizing to those she has to step between or around to get there. But the train comes to another rattling stop and the doors slide open. The other woman steps out without looking at Nova at all. Too many people stand between Nova and the door — she won’t make it before the door closes and the train starts to move again, she knows.

Nova turns to the window to see which way the woman turns.

There’s no one on the platform at all.

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