He saw her, and she caught his attention. She bought the ticket at last stop. Her black suit was making her look real slim and tall. Dusky skin and long black hair, she was beautiful, but it was not her beauty that got him hooked, it were her eyes, big, black, lost. They were like holding some dilemma. Holding her bag close to her body she chose a window seat as the whole bus was deserted in the wee morning hours. He was on his way home from night shift and was weary and tired but seeing her he felt fully awake and conscious. She was sitting on the other side of the bus, the sunlight was in her eyes, and she shielded them with the back of her hand. The shadows of the trees that lines the road was falling on her like playing some kinda Hide & Seek on her beautiful face. Her scarf was caught in the wind and about to fly out of the window. It was about to fly away when she held it by the corner and snatched back in. Wrapping it around her neck securely she sat back in the seat. He was watching her unblinkingly as she felt his presence and turned her head, giving him one long look. That piercing gaze, those bewitching eyes, the black speckled with brown shining like embers in the evening made his heart do a little Tango. She gave him a weak smile and turned away before waiting for his reaction.
He kept looking at her like in a trance, like a fool. He knew she saw him from peripheral view. She loosened her hair and let them fall over her face. Her long and dark hair were covering her lips, obscuring her beautiful, sad eyes. Just then her phone rang, and she rummaged in her handbag not able to find it. There was a desperation in her as she kept looking the bag and then emptied it upside down on the next seat. It’s contents spilt out on the seat.
The seat was covered in odd stuff, and he looked with interest. There was a little Mint Box, a pair of Aviators, a thick book, an inhaler, a diary from which a letter and a picture fell down(it was face down, lying on the floor), few dried Lavender flower sticks, a Swiss knife, a medicine bottle, a set of key chains, guitar pick, a green marker pen, an expensive looking lotion, a hair clip. Small booties(for the small baby), lips gloss, a hair brush, eyeliner, some hard cash and some coins, earplugs, tissues, band-aid, receipts, movie tickets, and finally, under a small mirror, she found her phone. She gave him an apologetic look and desperately took the call.
“Hello,” she said a little breathlessly. He couldn’t hear what was being said from the other side but with each word her voice broke and her eyes welled up.
“no, yeah, ok, but, oh, I lost it, I….I don’t know…..sorry” Every word made him more and more curious, already the contents from her bag made her queasy. Why the booty, she hardly seemed 19, could she already be a mum? No, but he was over thinking, they could be anyone’s, her niece or nephew may be. He was finding her to be somewhat of an enigma, a mystified riddle. His mind was in overdrive as he was trying to make out the conversation. She sobbed in between a few times as she kept talking in one-word answers, he notices she made put up no questions, just replied with resignation.
“Listen to me, no! Just listen. I will do it, just gimme some time” she talked fast and hyper. He was now finding the whole situation a Conundrum. “Ohk, thank you, yeah. Please understand. Alright, Bye” She switched the phone shut and slumped in her seat with a painful sigh.He saw her wipe her tears with her scarf as she sniffed and started to collect all the things back into her bag, stuffing them haphazardly. Everything was in, just all the papers were left out, and she saw the picture on the floor and picked it up. She took a long look at the picture, he tried to see what it was, all he could make out was a young man holding a baby girl, but he was too young to be her father. She held the picture lovingly and ran a hand on the surface as if caressing it and without any preamble, she tore it in half, kept the baby part in her bag and held the man part in her hand and collected the receipts, the tickets, the letters and looked around, she turned her back to him and he could hear tearing paper sounds as she tore the stuff to bits and then she raised her trembling hand out of the window and scattered the paper bits to the wind.
He stood up and was about to stop her but remembered that he had no right to interfere. He saw the back of her shake and could tell she was sobbing hard, he couldn’t stop himself now and went to her and offered his water bottle to her. She looked at him and quickly sobered up wiping her tears and gave him a miserable look. Her lips parted and closed as id wanting to say something, but she closed it and took the water bottle, uncorked it and raised it above letting the cool water to fall into her mouth as she gulped it down. She drank to her fill, she was obviously thirsty. Politely she handed him the bottle and said a wispy “Thank you”. He took the bottle and was about to say something when he saw her hyperventilating from the effort to stop her tears. Panicked he asked her “What is wrong? Tell me, maybe I can help you”. She shook her head in a no and took her inhaler from her purse and took two long puffs from it. She closed her eyes and took some long breaths to calm herself, and when she opened them again, they looked emotionless, steely and icy.
She kept the inhaler back in the bag and zipped it close. Thier stop was still far, she could tell him all is she wanted to, as he had seen her buy the ticket for the last station. He asked her once again “Ma’am can I help you ?”, She again nodded in a no, but didn’t look vulnerable or insecure anymore, she looked resolved and determined. The bus jolted to a stop, and some men got in as he was still standing next to her. Suddenly she got up and went to the door, getting down at the stop. He ran to her and looked at her, “Maám this is not your stop” his voice shook a bit as she turned back to give him a thoughtful look and told “This is my stop” and she ran away as he heels dodged the puddles made from rain and he stood at the bus entrance, watching her retreating back.
An urge took hold of him to follow her, to get down and find out what was it all about. The red light has turned green, and it was a now and never moment as the driver put the bus into the ignition and the floor vibrated under his feet. He held tightly onto the door handles as the bus crawled forward. He had made his decision.