A beautiful woman with a tired face asks a wild girl-child to please sit. The little girl would rather stand, twirl, spit, jump, defy. With some prodding, she climbs onto the seat backward, her sparkly high-top sneakers dangling off the edge. A fat, bearded man pushes her butt toward the plastic chair like someone trying to make a dog sit.
“Please,” the beautiful woman says softly. The child bears her teeth, one of them missing, and growls.
The beautiful woman has sleek black hair that has been haphazardly piled atop her head, but it frames her face just so, and it is lovely. Deep lines run from her nose to her mouth. Her pretty lips are cracked.
The beautiful woman takes a deep breath, fills her belly with stale subway air. Just as her shoulders relax the little girl darts from her seat. The fat man catches her underneath both arms and returns her to the seat with a plop. The little girl narrows her ice blue eyes, the same color as the beautiful woman’s.
“Please,” the beautiful woman says again. No one is listening.
The girl is holding a stuffed tiger in one hand, a toy cage in the other. She slams the tiger into the bars over and over and over.
“No,” the beautiful woman tells her. “Absolutely not.”
A beat, and then the child lurches forward yet again, her face dirty, feral. The fat man shoves her back into the seat with a single stiffened finger. A red mark quickly appears on the girl’s chest. She seems unfazed, tickled even.
“That’s enough,” the beautiful woman says. She is talking to both of them. Her posture screams that she’s on the verge of giving up, a keeper who just may let her captives go free.