The Artist: One of Two

by | Jul 12, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

She couldn’t believe her eyes. It was the boy on the bus

The young woman decided to take the bus. Usually, she would walk the thirty minute journey, but the last of three ten hour shifts had left her exhausted. All she wanted to do was slip into bed, pull the duvet up to her neck and sleep. She hated busses. They were noisy, smelly, the drivers were mental, and the passengers unsavoury.

The bus stop was empty and the bus was ten minutes late. She could have been half way home. Her legs ached and she needed to take the weight off them. Taking a seat in the middle of the coach, she assessed her fellow passengers.

Yes, all a bit shady. The smell of sweat mingled with diesel fumes. There was, however, one exception, a young man in a clean white t-shirt, jeans and matching white trainers. In front of him, he held a large faux-leather case around two feet square. The kind of bag that would hold blueprints or artwork. He had his chin on the top as if he was gazing over a fence in the style of “Kilroy was here”… in her direction.

The sight made her smile, a small, tired smile. He caught it and returned it ten-fold, his face opening up like a flower in the sun. He looked about ten years her junior, possibly High School or Freshman. His youthful features held the seeds of a handsome man in future life. There was a dark fuzz clinging above his top lip. His eyes were dark but sparkled in the lights of the coach.

She drew her eyes away and placed her bag against the window. Lying her head on the bag, she closed her eyes. The world melted away with the vibration of the engine and the rocking of the coach.

***

She removed the top from the ink bottle and dipped the nib into the ink. Twisting the screw on the converter, she watched the ink bubble into the chamber like black blood.

***

The bus hit a pothole in the road and she was jerked awake. Panicking, she looked around the alien surroundings. Then, as her thoughts cleared, she checked the display screen at the front. Two more stops, five minutes. Soon, she would be able to sleep for real, in her own bed. Conscious of his continuing stare, she glanced at the boy. His smile hadn’t faded. Had he worn it through her nap? He had an enchanted expression, like a victim of Medusa.

Feeling rather self-conscious, she closed her eyes again, just to rest them, she told herself. She placed the bag on her knee and hugged it close to her.

***

The warm feeling of sleep drew her back and she began to write. The black ink created swirling shining letters on the page. As she moved from right to left the ink sank into the page, creating the story.

***

Her head flopped forward with the inertia of the slowing bus. Ma’adi, the display showed, her stop. She jumped up and made for the door. Tiny white stars flashed before her eyes, as she emerged into the dark street. Gathering her bearings, she plotted her route from the unfamiliar surroundings of the bus stop.

Once established, she followed the way at a decent pace; bed was calling. She upped her speed and within minutes, arrived at the smart apartment block, inserting the key into the door of its foyer. As she opened the door, someone slipped past her and mumbled ‘Thank you.’

She couldn’t believe her eyes, it was the boy on the bus!

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