Expanding

Marlena sucks in her breath, crosses her legs, and moves her elbows from where they’d rested by her sides to her lap. Folds her hands. She thinks “small thoughts” in an attempt to minimize the space she inhabits. One-third of her seat is now available to her left, should the rotund woman who just entered the subway want to sit. She does, and wedges herself in, sighing with relief. Marlena lets out her breath slowly, expanding, she thinks, to fill the imperceptible space between herself and the woman. This is the closest thing to a hug she’ll have all day.