If she'd had the choice, she'd just fly everywhere, but Rehana didn't really want to give up her secret identity. She'd gotten used to being stared at for her chair, and for wearing hijab, but the attention she got when she was in the air was something else altogether.
People smiled when they saw her wearing her brightly colored jacket. Suddenly the scarf didn't matter if it was blue with white stars.
Landing was always hard. There were the mechanics of getting in the chair, but Rehana was getting better at fine control in the air. The harder part was the looks people gave her. She was never invisible, but the looks of pity served to remind her how false smiles could be.
Today Rehana had no time for pity or smiles. She was supposed to be taking the new kids for patrol in fifteen minutes, her train was ten minutes behind schedule, and there was a bike in the handicapped zone so she was stuck parking herself in the corner. She was half in front of the door and getting glared at by the people getting on; not the most auspicious beginning to the evening.
Maybe it was time to start changing at home and flying in, though that didn't really solve the problem the rest of the time.
As her stop came up, a thin young woman with skin just a shade darker than hers, in what Rehana thought of as the Portland Uniform - cute hoodie, scarf and knit cap, with long black hair that fell in Instagram-perfect waves over her shoulders - came up to the bike and started fiddling with it. Rehana checked her self and decided she had enough energy to bring it up. If it went badly, well, she was getting off here anyway.
"Next time, could you please keep your bike out of the wheelchair area? I don't have as many seating options as you." Rehana held her breath as she waited for a response, occupying her hands by checking the velcro on her gloves.
"Oh! I didn't even think - I hardly ever see folks in wheelchairs on here." Her eyes were wide when Rehana looked up. Not angry. That was good. "I'm sorry. I'll pay more attention next time." The train stopped and the ramp began to beep and descend outside.
"Thanks, please do," Rehana said as she the train door finally opened. The other young woman smiled, warm and genuine down to the corners of her eyes, and Rehana found herself smiling back as she started wheeling away. Maybe there was some sincerity left after all.
And maybe Rehana would still make it to muster if she hurried...