Strangers


She is reserved and quietly bubbling with verve, a tightly-coiled spring just at its ‘springing’ point. I wonder what would tip her over… over to my side. She is pretty, quietly and powerfully. I wait for eye contact. Dark soulful eyes, earnest. We have seen each other a few times, mornings mostly, on our ways to work, or probably school for her, I imagine. No other spaces, the back is squeezed, she sits next to me and stares ahead for a minute, then she rifles through her handbag. I politely look away. A crumpled fifty comes out and stays in her left hand. I wait for a chance for eye contact. Tightly-coiled spring.

We get going, jumping and bumping. Her back remains straight, perfect posture, one of those well brought-up children, those of the fork-and-knife and no-elbows-on-the-table types. Her arm brushes mine as she straightens herself, so slightly, and I can almost feel her on my bones, being as close to the surface as they are. Her skin is warm and soft; dark chocolate milk. I would not mind getting warmer. Wide-eyed and apologetic, she quickly turns and says sorry, twice, rapidly; muffled gun shots. I smile and wave my hand, “De nada.” Eyes straight ahead, back straight. Tightly-coiled spring, explode in my direction.

She gets off before me. I stare after her. What excuse have I given myself today? The same one I have been giving myself these past months: I am not ready, I have to get my shit together first. Will I ever be ready? Will I ever be ready to not be a stranger again, even to myself? Maybe next time… maybe next time I will say hello, maybe next time I will not wait for eye contact, maybe I next time I won’t wait for anything. Maybe…


 

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