Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I was on the bus.

The seats were uncomfortable, a thin layer of cheaply patterned fabric, soft, deceptively soft. There was a pole covered in hard rubber, the sense of safety. Hang onto it in the case of sudden stops, jarring the mind.

There was a man, elderly, Asian, simply dressed sitting diagonally across from me to my left. He sat upright, proper, but comfortable, more comfortable than anyone else could have ever been.

He held a single item, a textbook. I caught a quick glimpse of the spine: "Brain and Behavior". I wondered if it was for a class or for his own better understanding, understanding the depths of his own brain.

His eyes were closed. He was resting.

But he was smiling. He had the biggest smile on his face. No teeth showed, no sound escaped his soul, but his lips were turned up.

And he was smiling.

His hands were folded neatly on top of his newly bought textbook on top of his lap, right over left, concealing naked ring fingers.

He dreamed of days past, people, places, youth, worn-out shoes, the sweet mixed smell of hair and candy bars, nail-polished fingers that interlaced but somehow lost their grip.

He opened his eyes, the smile still there, but deceptive, concealing everything through upturned grins. His fingers remained naked.

And I knew that the textbook would never hold the answers, that the pole, covered in cheap, tough rubber, would not be, would never be enough to stop the jarring of his soul.

It was my stop. I stepped off the bus, slowly, without a smile.

And I hoped someone would notice.

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