they got on the subway at hollywood and vine. it was crowded and there were no seats, so they piled in, searching for space on the shiny bars to wrap their hands around. she kept shifting and slipping -- her bag was too heavy -- so the girl beside her reached for it and carried it, instead.

"she's stronger than her mom," the woman said to me, laughing, as she gripped both bars and firmly planted both her feet, nearly a yard a part, on the slippery floor. the girl just smiled and blew a wisp of hair away from her face.

her mom, i repeated to myself, and looked at the woman more closely. the girl had to be at least 8, but the mom couldn't have been much older than i. there was no wedding ring on her soft hand. the image struck my heart, and i got a little choked up.

no, i wanted to tell her. you are the strong one. instead, i turned to my own mother who was sitting behind me, blinked hard and smiled.

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