Bus Stop, a short story by StevenHunley. Date added: 2010-10-13. Times viewed: 2198.
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"Bus stop wet day
She’s there I say
Please use my umbrella”
Bus Stop--the Hollies
Raining. Wet day. Puddles in the gutter with oil-pictures psychedelically dancing, sopping shoes and soaking clothes abound in all directions. Wetness wetness everywhere and no escape is found.
Actually it had been raining for almost two weeks now. So when Jeffrey walked up carrying an umbrella you might suspect he was one of those kinds that are prepared for anything. His case was just the opposite. He was a procrastinator, a slacker, a putter-offer par excellence. It took two weeks of solid rain to make him realize he might need an umbrella, and truth be told, he was not the type to be ready for much of anything, especially the anything he was to encounter at the bus stop. The form that was sitting on the bench, the woman, was the anything.
He thought, from the back of her head anyway, “She’s a girl.” But no, she was a woman full-grown.
She happened to him just like a song. It was starting to mist. She was sitting, petite and wild-haired, a sketch-pad tucked under her arm. He sat down beside her and she scooted away. That’s what good girls do.
When the mist got serious he opened the umbrella.
“Here, use some of this.”
She scooted back over and he noticed the smell of lavender and fresh-brewed coffee. Enchanting.
“Are you an artist?”
He’d got her to talk so now he was getting bold.
“Let’s see whatcha got."
She looked up to regard him. He seemed harmless, in fact kind of nice. She liked nice.
She thought she might shock him for fun. Women can be pretty bold too.
They were sketches, charcoal sketches, pretty good charcoal sketches. Nude charcoal sketches. She had drawing down.
“These are pretty good.”
He aimed his comment carefully into her chocolate brown eyes that other men would have merely labeled brown. He was taken completely by her chocolate explosions.
“The proportions are just right. The lines are bold and show control and a sure hand.”
He looked at her hands. Delicate but undoubtedly strong. Good. She brightened. Good thing because the sun wasn’t out yet. With her the day was shining anyway.
“Sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Are you an art student too?”
“Used to be years ago, but now I’m a photographer.”
Like I said, she possessed wild dark hair.
“How do you manage to take care of that hair?”
“With a brush silly! But I can make it straight too, by using a hair dryer. It’s the dampness that makes it curl. Sometimes I hate it.”
“Don’t hate it too much. Women I know would kill for that kind of curl.”
She smiled and he noted her smile, so now he got bolder yet.
“So what does your boyfriend think of you drawing nude men at school? I bet he gets jealous.”
“Sometimes he gets real jealous!”
Shit, she had one alright. Women this good looking always did. It was some kind of natural law, some sort of inevitability. Damn.
The mist turned to rain and she scooted closer, boyfriend or no boyfriend.
“It’s cold,” he observed, crest-fallen. It was pretty much all he could say.
“Want a sip of my coffee?”
He took some and liked it just fine.
“Yummy. What flavor is this?”
“It’s Columbian Supremo with hazelnut creamer.”
He got excited.
“It’s great, it tastes good, it smells good. It’s the best I’ve ever had,” but then while he was on a roll and before he could stop himself he said, “It’s you.”
He faltered, “I mean it’s good...and it tastes good...and I meant...”
“I know what you meant,” said with just a hint of a smile.
They both saw the bus down the street and got up. It pulled up with a splash and a hiss and a lurch. He motioned her on. It was filled with people and he wanted to sit next to her but the machine wouldn’t take his dollar until the third try. By that time he’d lost her in a sea of hats and coats and heads. The bus was so stuffed it smelled like wet dog. He finally found a seat.
After a few stops on major streets enough people filtered off and he saw her in back and she gave him one of those “I recognize you” smiles.
“She’s comfortable now,” he figured, “on account of me; she’s not wet at all.”
Her hair looked as wild as ever, maybe more, and somehow made him miss her even though he’d never had her. He saw her writing something down on a piece of lined notebook paper, using the sketch pad for support.
“Probably a note to her stinking boyfriend,” he figured, who by now he hated, if only because
she was his. He could hear it tearing as she ripped it free of the spiral notebook and folded it up like a secret.
She reached up and tugged at the bell to get off.
He figured, “It’s over.”
Now she walked past him to get to the door. So close that he imagined, though I’m sure it was an illusion, he could smell lavender again. She slowed a bit and reached down and stuffed something in his shirt pocket. She stepped down real dainty-like on to the curb. He watched her out the rain-streaked window as she took a few steps away but then turned.
She held the sketch book up towards the bus. There was something written on it, something all black and bold. When the rain started to hit it bled to the bottom but could still be easily read.
“NO BOYFRIEND” it said all runny-like.
Smiling now she walked away. He took out the paper and unfolded it. It was short, a simple note really, but it made him catch his breath when he read,
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