Expectations

He’s wearing paint-splattered jeans, black sneakers, and a worn-thin t-shirt with a small spatter of paint on the right sleeve. He speaks with a rough, Brooklyn-born accent, and he has tattoos up both arms, and one on the right side of his neck. Laughing. What’s the matter with you, huh? What’s the matter with you? Making them cat-faces, you little shit. He has shaved-close hair and a trimmed mustache.

Strapped to his chest, in a grey, front-carrying infant holder, is a downy-haired baby. A burp towel is slung over his right shoulder, another towel tucked in front of his little passenger. Tiny, bare feet hang down, toes curling and uncurling, her knees bent up so she can curl into her daddy.

One big work-callused hand cradles her head, the other feeding her the pink-topped bottle. Earlier he had played with one of her delicate feet, idly running a large finger back and forth over the bottom of it, a small anklet wrapped around her ankle.

His stop comes, he picks up the big green and brown diaper bag, urging the fondly smiling woman to give him a kiss. She’s in a crisp, red-button up shirt, and pressed black slacks. Her hair is pulled back into a tight braid.

His stop is my stop and I hear him talking to his daughter as I make my way out of the station, his voice taking on that soft tone that is reserved for babies. It’s a little baby Harley Davidson shirt, for you! And We’re almost there, baby. As I orientate myself in the bright sunlight outside the station, he cleans something out of the corner of her eyes and walks off, one hand shading her wide eyes, talking to her the whole time

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