It was too late to do a u-turn. The officer’s eyes were already fixed on her, indifferently weighing her guilt – or just checking her out – it was hard to tell the innocuous from the threatening when they were in uniform. Either way she’d have to face it out, force her legs to keep moving forward with the steady ease they’d had before she’d turned the corner into the station and run into the wall of authority. Hard to do when her knees were mutineers, almost collapsing on themselves as they battled to turn away and run.
She tried not to look at him as she approached, although her eyes strained to read his expression. Was he bored? Just there because he’d been told to be and happy to idly wave the crowd through? Or was he measuring her, judging her and the rest of them – eager to catch someone out and feel his duty was done? Which one would be better for her? A bored man could still stop her, a keen one could still judge her as irrelevant. She glanced at him, trying to read everything in an instant and failing.
It only took seconds and she was there, within a couple of feet of him, a few seconds that felt long enough to tear her down but far too short for her to ready herself. Would he stop her? Should she stop before he asked? Or would that be an admission of guilt that wasn’t even asked for? The other commuters were seemingly oblivious as they drifted through the strung out line of officers at the entrance, all innocent perhaps, or just better at looking it. While she could feel herself glowing red, steps uneven as he kept his eyes on her.
Within arms reach now. Any second and she’d be finished, a hand would grab her, then the questions and then stolen away to… He nodded, his eyes meeting hers, still hard and blank, but then she was through. No looking back, no hesitation, again she had to force her body not to slump in relief or turn to cast a glance at the fate she’d just escaped. She was part of the crowd again now, she needed to be as indifferent to the check point as the rest of them were, just another face among many, another commuter walking away from the day and returning to normality.
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