Rain flicked against the window creating a continuous thrum, as the bus rolled through the city. Here he sat, the fogged glass cold against his forehead as he lay staring into the gray world outside. He hated the damp but, it proved to be relaxing in the sweltering heat of the bus’ interior. The soft squeal of the breaks hissed as the next stop approached. From the front of the bus, a quiet squelch of wet rubber announced the addition of some new passengers. Few seats remained within the densely packed bus. He was surprised, as a beautiful young woman slid into his neighboring seat. He glanced at the woman and she was astounding. Her eyes shone like two pools of amber in the dimly lit bus, their glow like witch-light drawing in his gaze. His eyes traced the soft roundness of her porcelain face. Her two lips like red half moons in a perpetual frown drooped like petals heavy with morning dew. Her beauty was exquisite but paled in comparison to the intoxication that was her voice.
“Sorry to bump you, all the others were taken”. As she spoke a current of heat ran through his body setting him on edge. He met her eyes and spoke, his voice catching in his throat.
“Not a problem, nice to see you.”
“It’s quite a dreary day isn’t it.”
“ it is, but I’ve always loved the mist, Reminds me of good books and warm evenings.”
She eyed him looking him up and down, a small smile creeping over her, its splendor like honeysuckle and sunshine.
“Your ring, are you married?” Her eyes darting to the aged wedding band he still wore.
“Yes, I still wear it, though she’s been gone for awhile.” His lips pursed, his eyes glazed as memories drifted through his mind.
“Are you married?” He asked looking at her hands.
“No, haven’t found the one.”
“Theres nothing like it. Once you find the person who fills every moment with wonder, anything else just seems… less. She was everything I ever wanted.” He stared down at the ring, his eyes stinging.
“ You deserve happiness though, everyone does. Have you tried dating since?”
“ When I said my heart was hers forever, I meant it. I loved her soul, she was the like the first bloom of spring and the boom of thunder as it rolls in the dark. She captured my hearts wonder and tore down every wall I ever built.”
She stared at him, a tinge of sorrow slipping into those honey pools.
“You never tried? Not once?”
“oh I did. I-I tried a lot, but in the end I couldn’t take it anymore.” His voice a whisper
“Why’s that.” She asked, a sudden sharpness to her tone.
“There is nothing worse than spending the night with them, and realizing that they could never be more than a pale imitation of what you truly want.”
“I’m-I’m sorry to hear that” her eyes fell to the seat in front of her. She studied the lines cut by riders over the years, tracing them with her finger. The bus once again came to a jerking stop, sending her crashing into his side. His breath caught in his throat. Her soft body pressed against him brought forth a flood of memories. Soft breathing in the early morning, smiles that shone like starlight, holding his wife till the morning light.
She paused for a moment pressed against him, his arm wrapped around her side keeping her from crashing into the aisle. She pushed further against him softly sinking further into his side. Her eyes slowly lifted meeting his, and the small embers within his heart roared to life. She turned, her shoulder pushing hard into his sternum with sudden, familiar coldness. He slid gently back away from her into the seat as he pulled back his arm.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to fall…”
“No, no it’s fine, I just… “ she gazed away, her face expressionless.
“She was-she was everything I ever hoped for, my everything. People talk about how love is fiery, passionate, complicated, but our love was simple. Loving her was nothing, like dandelion wishes, magic but simple. All the misery of the world, gone like smoke in the wind. I knew that no matter what happened, no matter how terrible things got, our love was there like a safe harbor in a maelstrom.”
“Sometimes things fall apart, some storms are too great to endure.”
“I understood why it ended. Always said I didn’t but I did. We lost ourselves. I blamed her because she wouldn’t let me help, so she ran and there he was waiting.”
“Maybe she couldn’t with you there. Maybe she needed to do it for herself.”
“ I will never understand how you can tell someone you love them, while in another’s bed.”
She paused looking out the rain streaked window, her breath slowing. She exhaled a deep heavy sigh and looked him in the eyes, their glow like god’s own mercy. He melted in their sight. His wounded, broken heart for a moment beating with ease once again. At this he felt every sinew of his form tighten, for years he had thought that this feeling had left his life forever. He looked at her, a smile creeping into his eyes, and for a moment so too did hers. Her hand rested on his, but then in an instant it pulled away. Those amber pools filled with ice that would rival that of the coldest winter’s howl. Where moments ago hints of that precious smile hung like lofty clouds, now only cold indifference remained.
“Sometimes one must find peace where they may. Experiences are the sweets of life and a life lived without ecstasy is one missed.”
The bus pulled to a stop this time a gentle roll and squeak of the break the only indication it had stopped. The rain came down heavier. It bounced upon the roof creating a thunderous roar. She sat beside him, tense, her muscles drawn up like wires of a piano.
“She was everything I ever wanted but in the end, there was nothing left of that sweet girl I had known. She was a frigid selfish thing, too wounded to love another. I was in love with the ghost of a woman and when I saw that, my heart broke forever.” He paused, staring into those caramel eyes, in them he saw nought but the glaze of one who has lost all but the basest of interest. All she had once been was gone, she was but the shadow of the woman moments before. As he rose she stood allowing him to exit the bus. Turning he spoke.
“For all the hurt she gave me, I wish I could take back all the hate I gave back. She was hurt, and scared, and I made it worse. I can’t say you didn’t deserve it, but I wish I had been better, because every night when I dream; I can’t see anything but the hurt that was in those deep brown eyes…” He paused, letting out a ragged breath.