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(298 words)
by Selena Jardine


I spotted her on the subway, on my way to lunch with my wife. She was about twelve years old, fresh as a morning rose, with those pink cheeks, that long brown hair, those coltish legs. She wore spectacles, which she kept pushing up as she stood reading a book. The car was crowded, and I looked around for her inevitable family. She appeared to be all alone. I stepped closer, inching my way through the press.

I could see now that she was wearing a plaid skirt that fell just above the knee. Her thighs were slender and pale gold. Just an undershirt under her blouse, but I could see the beginnings of breasts. As I watched, she lifted one foot and scratched her calf with the toe of her tennis shoe. Perfect grace.

I flicked my eyes away in case anyone was watching me watching her. The subway car rocketed on through the darkness.

When her foot came back down, I saw that something was wrong with her skirt. It was hiked up somehow in front. I made an involuntary face. It spoiled the picture. Perhaps it was caught on someone's umbrella, or a folded newspaper.

Then I saw her face.

Her eyes were wide and shocked, and her face was deeply flushed. The press of bodies around her was so tight that she could not move easily, and she still had her book in one hand. With the other, she scrabbled and beat at whatever was creasing her skirt and concealing her perfect thighs from my vision. She made no sound. Once, she gasped, and great tears stood in her eyes. Her book fell from her hand.

Lucky bastard.

But I had to get off at the next stop. One mustn't be late for lunch.



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