She looked like a college student on her way to class, trying to read a textbook as she clung to the subway car’s pole. Her mass of electrified ginger curls was tucked up in the hood of her slightly threadbare duster-length khaki sweater jacket. The military style boots on her feet shifted with the train, trying to keep her still enough to read.
She was not reading.
She was watching.
There were four. Then two. Then up to six. Changing as the train stopped and the load of passengers changed with the destinations. Each ride, the new number made a drumbeat in her head. Seven. Four. Five.
She turned a page in the book.
The next stop. It would happen at the next stop.
The number rattled in her head with the rhythm of the train. Five. There were five.
Would it be enough to make it worth it? If any got off, it would not be, she knew.
The train slowed as it pulled into the dim station. None made a move as if to disembark.
She shifted her book, her hand turned a page, and as she gripped the edge again, the fingers of her right hand splayed. To anyone looking, her eyes never left the page.
The man leaning against the wall, waiting for the train bound for the other direction, stopped reading his paper and turned his head towards the front of her train. After a short pause, he tucked the paper under his arm.
She sucked in a quiet breath and closed her book. The doors opened. She swung her bag forward and put the book away. Crouching down, she tied her shoe. When she got up, her bag was not on her shoulder. She made a leap and squeezed through before the doors closed.
She was just emerging from the station, she was on the last step, entering the sunlight, when she felt the rumble of the explosion through the soles of her boots.