From the Inside Flap
Ruby's father often said that the soul of a man shows in his eyes. She always hoped that wasn't true, because if it were, she lived in a world of monsters. Everywhere she turned, all she saw were glossy eyes, pretty like spun glass but emotionless. Lifeless. Just like all the other features that made up their faces. Everything was there, arranged just how they should be, and while some were pleasing to look at, they were all ultimately soulless. Like porcelain dolls. The world was full of them. Life-size dolls that moved, talked, and stared at her with empty eyes.
It had been a relief to find the train carriage relatively empty when she had boarded. And while a few locals had come and gone with the different stops, the numbers had remained relatively low. Curled up on her seat, she had pulled her beanie down and her thick scarf up, hiding under the excess fabric and trying to ignore the dolls as they passed. Most seemed content to leave her be. A strange teenager with social issues wasn't of much concern when they were hurriedly trying to fit in the last social calls of the season. Tourism ruled these parts. The whole economy was driven by what they earned in the brief summer and the few gentle first snowfalls. If they didn't make their money then, they didn't get another chance until the snow melted again. It made catching up with friends and family in other towns a juggling act.
By now, the changing leaves had fallen and were quickly disappearing under layers of snow. The days were getting shorter, nights colder, and it was now a winter wonderland that would soon grow harsh and unforgiving. Those who would remain were preparing to close up shop and bunker down as soon as the last tourists left. Everyone would leave their small towns and head south to escape the bitter wrath of the winter.
Ruby was going north.
For three days, she had managed to escape most people's notice. And those who did spare her a second glance hadn't tried to start up a conversation or invite her to join their games to pass the time. She had perfected her 'leave me alone' vibe. Shoulder pressed against the ever-cooling window, face hidden but attention obviously on the world outside or the book in her lap, and her feet curled up on the seat next to her, her chubby limbs and bags taking up as much space on the ripped vinyl as possible. Her best defense had always been staying as still and quiet as possible. Kind of like a possum playing dead.
Don't talk. Don't move. Never make eye contact. She had repeated the commands in her head since childhood and, more often than not, they had turned out to be sound advice. Sometimes, she wasn't so lucky.
Like right now.