by Eugie Foster
Click her name for her home page, or visit her blog on the same site. This story originally appeared in issue #23 of Apex Magazine. Eugie’s newest story collection, RETURNING MY SISTER’S FACE AND OTHER FAR EASTERN TALES OF WHIMSY AND MALICE is published by Norilana Books and is available for Kindle, Nook and ePpub, iPad, PDF, Palm (PDB) and Sony (LRF).
Read by Kara Grace, who also read “Braiding The Ghosts” for PODCASTLE.
“‘When the train arrived, it was jammed with commuters: students, salarymen, and office ladies. I squeezed into the last car, and more bodies pushed in behind me. My stomach churned, assaulted by cloying perfume, stale cigarette smoke, and sour sweat.
I was so intent upon not being sick that at first I didn’t notice that somewhere between Shibuya and Harajuko stations, a man’s hand had settled on my leg. Surrounded by blank-faced commuters, wedged so tightly I couldn’t move, I had no idea who it belonged to. As the train jostled along, the hand slipped higher, burning a sweat-slick trail from knee to thigh. At the next juddering stop, my agitated insides heaved, and I shoved free from the car. I fled into the closest ladies? toilet to throw up. Stomach as empty and deflated as my spirits, I splashed water on my face, trying not to cry.
The door opened, and a girl in a school uniform identical to mine stepped to the sink beside me. She pulled a glittering gold bag embossed with distinctive Louis Vuitton monograms out of her schoolbag. After dumping an array of makeup on the counter, she proceeded to sketch in her eyebrows with a dark pencil.
‘I saw what happened, you know.” Her voice was low and rich. “You’re supposed to yell ‘chikan’ when they grope you. Everyone says train perverts make them want to puke, but you’re the first I’ve seen who really has. You must be new to Tokyo.’”