Setting: On a late Spring Friday afternoon, two 12-year old cousins are standing on the BART train platform in El Cerrito, a small city across the bay from San Francisco.
“The pony-tail lady in jeans and pink sweater," I said to my cousin who was a few months older than me. Whenever we’re in a public place, Sydney and I like to play a game of guessing what people are.
“A dancer. Maybe a ballerina,” Twelve-year old Sydney said, gazing down the BART train platform.
"See the old man with the silver cane behind her."
“A retired guy from the government.”
“The girl in overalls with a brown leather backpack.”
“Easy. College student, probably UC Berkeley." Sydney lowered her voice and said, "I've got one for you, Jeannie. The tall guy with the bald head and the blond ponytail."
I squatted down and pretended to tie my shoe as I glanced at the man wearing a grayish-green raincoat, the belt hanging to the ground. He reminded me of characters in the spy movies my brothers like to watch.
“A double agent of course,” I said, nearly whispering.
Sydney nodded, looking over at him. I took another peek. He was staring at us. Giggling, we turned quickly around.
“Ssssh,” I said. “He’ll think we’re talking bout him.”
“We are,” Sydney said between giggles.
I turned again. He was still staring at us. It made me nervous. But I never let a stare get the better of me. I stared back.
“Cool, Jeannie. You made him look away,” said Sydney.
I shrugged. It was nothing. I was the champion starer in my class. I needed some notoriety other than being the shortest kid in class.
“You pick one,” said Sydney.
"Here comes the train," I said. "Come on, let's get on the first car."
In seconds, the train to San Francisco came to a halt. We were spending the weekend with Sydney's mom who says she's an artist. But, I know better. I'm certain she's a spy.