He was on his last steps for the day. He has walked approximately half a kilometre within the city’s intestine. He was the night sky’s extra layer of black upon the pavement. He was a contributor to the breathing cycle. His backpack clung to him as tightly as his somewhat-drenched undershirt has. And after staring at the different ways the ground can look and be made, the first hope that lit itself to him was that of the line at the terminal. It was significantly scarce than he expected.
Along the wrought-iron fences past the gnomish metal tubes, into the open parking area where the shuttles squat, he made his way. It was a few minutes to 8:00 PM. At this time, there should have been at least five rows of domino commuters sweating, waiting for their turn to head home. There were many islands for people, all wishing for their different homes. He asked for the usual spot where the people who ride the same direction as him. To his slight confusion, the barker may have rearranged things. He was asking the wrong crowd.
8:00 PM was strip-teasing already. But for this particular day, at this particular time, he found himself before one and a half set of people supposedly religiously grouped in tens. A record-breaker. No. A miracle. Such was this line. Such was today.
He went closer to the island where his usual people are. He first preyed on the line with five people who stood like candles in it. He surmised that between the two, this was the second line. But today, he was miraculously wrong. So he went for the line with almost a full set of commuters. At the end of that line (he was number 8) he only had to ask just to be sure if he was with the right tribe. He asked commuter #7. A good number, really. He thought, “It is a beautiful number.”
He asked in one breath if this line will reacquaint itself with the road to his home. She, a life-size white marble with hair the colour of late sun-drenched trees, and a face that will make one believe that God is perfection, lifted the corners of her mouth to the direction of the timid moon, made the first breath that created a world, answered ever so softly, a beautiful, “Yes.”
Her feet shuffled to make space for him. He tried to find his footing, otherwise, he would have fallen for her at that moment. But Fate did not create the shape of this story that way. Fate gave it a little more firewood, stepped on the bellow and gently hummed the sound of whispers.
They waited no more than five minutes before it was their turn to step into the belly of their shuttle. Perfection rode first. Number 8 was seated across her. And for the first twenty seconds of the rest of the crawling, she was generous enough to smile, and he was brave enough to exchange gifts. There was no light in there, only some donations from street lamps, and the occasional moon. Yet, her face lived and breathed to him like ember.
He stole so many glances, he could have been incarcerated. But alas, he already was. Her countenance was ball and chain. His eyes dragged it to his mind.
She attached two white earphones unto her hidden ears. She held her phone before her, lending more light to her. Alluring him to look at it. By the reflection behind her, he can see that she was watching something. But after a few moments, she gave up and put it down. Still, the show unshakenly continued.
He, on the other hand, was still busy of thievery. He had to not forget her face. He will turn her to ink soon enough. As his eyes held on to the snap shots of her face, he was praying for this ride home to be the longest ride home.
They were a quarter of the journey into the ride. The tangerine street lights recoloured their faces. He had to do something. He had to write. (As was the only thing he can do.)
And so, from one of the two pockets at the side of his backpack, he took his field notebook. Within it, it is written, “This notebook appreciates being wrong.” Within it are scratches and triumphs, and ink-form versions of his thoughts. There were no lines that guide his strings. Only a universe to write on. He took a 0.5 and he stirred it well enough for it to vomit what will then become his voice. He gauged himself. He had three minutes and an inconsistent road. He, his bag, his hand, his notebook, his pen, and his thoughts jumped up and down as does the Richter scale. But his penmanship was trained well enough to outlast and outplay the acned road that can equalise his writing to chicken scratch. Relieved and satisfied, his cursive handwriting was survived by a short, timid message for this wonder before him. It sang something like:
“I have a hard time talking to girls––especially the pretty kind. I’ve always had the courage of words, but never the courage of voice. But I do have the will to get to know you more. If you think you can allow me to, then think about texting me here: [he wrote the code that can help her reach him]. Only when you’re ready. Only if it’s okay. [He made his name known like a baptising a storm.] Nice to meet you. :)”
As he was writing this, he thought her eyes shed vision on him as the sun would to the earth. He resisted the temptation to know if it is true. He liked the mystery of her, and the thrill of the situation.
When he finished, he tore off that page from the notebook. He folded it the way peregrines are accustomed to. He felt stupid but he knew that it felt right. It was for her, after all. He battled with himself for the rest of the ride. Every once in a while, though, his eyes would step on her bubblegum eyes. They would meet and let go. But it only made the struggle even harder. But nothing he cannot win.
A few minutes passed, the van was fast but the journey felt long enough. Long enough for him to muster the bravest five seconds of his life. The Chance laid out two possibilities: a) He gets off first and on the way down he shall land the letter onto her hand, or b) She gets off first and he would have had to spoon all the boldness in the universe to hand her the letter.
Fate apparently had made a choice before I met her. It chose the second.
So, she shall get off one bridge before him. She poised herself waiting for the right time to tell the driver where she is getting off. And he collected his heart for it was throbbing in many places––especially in his hands.
When finally the van assumed its lane, and slowly came to a full stop, he unlatched and opened the door, and she was ready to unload herself. As she made her way out, his hand decided to have a mind of its own and grabbed her right hand gently and placed the letter on her soft hands. He had to coerce the words, “Take this” twice.
He did not know why he had to repeat the request. Perhaps, it was to coerce the courage. Perhaps it is because repetition breeds familiarity. And he knew in that moment that he had to familiarise himself with courage.
She took it but the paper jumped off from her hand, went down like a kamikaze fighter pilot to the ground. But her hands rescued it. She saved it. By all that’s holy, she did.
The door closed. His heart stopped. She took each step away from him. Her back promising to disappear into the Thursday night. His eyes were lost inside the van. His thoughts ran like migraine. He cannot believe he did that. His introversion tapped him on the shoulders. He shrugged. And he was nervous. But he must have been in love. Somewhat. Somehow.
He does not know what fruit it will bear. All he has are seeds of recollections stitched together by romantics, and feeble optimism. It depends on how Fate would make sense of the tattoos in that paper. And all this story can conclude for now is that the moments gave birth to the indeterminate values of a He and a She.
They just don't understand you just want to write.
#3: Be present.
It's a beautiful thing to watch, a child being fearless and another child being suddenly brave.
Almost two years ago, I vowed to never love again...
Care to suggest a name for my Siberian Husky puppy?
For what are you but an idea I've loved only from a distance.
I still could feel in my hands the us you did not accept.
No wonder I was losing my mind.
Thoughts on thoughts