Between the lines.




Sitting newspaper left unread,neatly folded on her lap,grey pencil skirt straight,briefcase leaning slightly against her calf, the sudden stop and start motion of this beat up on duty bus,rustling her from her otherwise still position.She sits her back turned to the oncoming passengers beside the exit door.Her brown hair is windswept from the opening closing of the door,strands now covering her face,her plaited braid loosening,coming undone.She pulls the hair elastic free,and lets her hair settle mid-length just below her shoulders.None of those who have boarded have given her much notice.She is unlike others now on this route,as it makes its final few stops.She is a ghost.I can tell sitting four rows from the back,that her hands are chalk white,her face expressionless,as she desperately grips the cold steel pole beside her.She looks nervous.The only movement she makes every two minutes is to glance down briefly to her left wrist,to check a watch hidden by her sleeve.Her hand hesitates above the newspaper,as if deciding weather or not to read it,she leaves it where she has placed it.She returns to watching her reflection in the bus window panels,the headlights of passing cars,and the blur of passing buildings.I begin to wonder the story of this woman.

Beside me is an old man,cane resting by his feet,along with a grocery bag,filled with cigarettes,milk,bread,hungry man microwave dinners,and what i suspect,is a bottle of scotch,neatly tucked in a brown paper bag,secured in place by the rest of his purchases.Five stops ago he asked me to wake him at the last stop,after failing to find a pen hidden among his effects to play Sudoku,his hand are now folded across his chest,head tilting forward,.I notice three rings on his finger,his own wedding band,and two resized rings one an engagement ring,the other his wife’s.I leave him rest,earphones still in place,i press pause.

When i look back up,i can see a few stares in my direction,i follow their gazes to a teen couple kissing,gym bag by his feet,a bright pink leather oversized handbag by her Marie Kate pumps.I can see from here he is checking out every girl behind the one in front of him,giving each in turn a wink,and a playful half-smile,before hungrily returning to the sugar glossed lips of the next homecoming queen.I can see miss perfect now frantically texting every BFF who replies back the 411,i can almost hear the high-pitched girl screams now,as she furiously responds with her left hand,every incoming message heard by the entire bus,another generic rock/punk song by pink i believe,yup young,romance is alive and well.

There is a guy,about my age,if i were to guess,he is in his early twenties,he looks much older.He wears a black worn leather duster,a pair of faded blue jeans,torn to shreds at the knees,and covered in acrylic paint,his hair a mess of dreadlocks,an artists goatee on his chin.He brings his hand up to rub his 5 o clock shadow,before lowering it again to his pocket,he takes out a putty eraser,and begins to work on cleaning up the lines on his sketch pad.He has spent this bus journey coming up with superhero’s,such a guy thing to do.For all the facial piercing and tattoos i can see,he is still the same kid he was in high school,drawing on the backs of textbooks,vandalising every square inch of his desk,while making up back stories for each hero,and conquering up some super powered villain to challenge,before being questioned in-depth by a group of his peers,assuming of course they weren’t busy checking out potential dating material.

The bus grinds to a stop,the rest of the commuters disembark,at this shopping mall district,only two more to go until i need to wake the man beside me.My attention returns to the woman by the door,she is still here,a black sleek blackberry phone now in her hand,she looks at it as if willing it to ring,at the same time a look of dread is mingled in her eyes,she has made this her new focus for the remaining journey.Another stop and start,i gently begin to wake the elderly man,still keeping her in my vision,as i grab my messenger bag.She now places the newspaper on the seat beside her,phone still in hand,she stands still gripping the pole,as if for support or comfort,her legs are shaking,perhaps they have fallen asleep on the bus ride,or maybe the movement of the bus has her struggling to keep balance.She presses the stop button,repeatedly,she is the first to exit.

Last stop,i wait patiently for the man beside me to file down the bus,i glance back to check I’ve not left anything behind.I see him now making his way towards a row of houses,the couple are now settling into a suv parked at the opposite side of the road,the artist is leaning against a lamp-post doing the last few lines before stowing it carefully under his arm.I ask for directions to a street,the now off duty middle age city worker points me towards the route the woman made,i thank him.Out of the corner of my eye i see her newspaper,damp and stained.It had not rained today,curious,i grab it.I readjust my jacket,press play on my iPod,the fray-how to save a life.I make the few steps to the lamp-post and read the headline.

Now i know her story.                               



~ by wingstruck on January 23, 2011.

4 Responses to “Between the lines.”

  1. you are good. write more

  2. i really like the balance between the various characters. this one in particular was enjoyable to read. i love good “endings” or last sentences that just linger in your mind- yours was really good. i like how in the end you elluded to what you were slowly piecing together throughout the experience. i take the train to school everyday and its always an adventure watching people.

    • I have always been curious about human behaviour,we give away allot about ourselves,where we work,the lives we lead,any stranger on a bus can grasp that,piece together a back storey from the facts they see before them,how we dress,act,behave,our faces and body language also give allot away about us as people,individuals,i prefer leaving people with room to come to there own conclusions about “characters” i write about,this is simple my perspective on a daily event,taking a bus,its a common experience for all people,all walks of life,so it is relatable.Thank you for taking to time to read this Benji,im glad you came away from it with your own pause for thought moment,that is the goal i set myself when i sit down to write.Perhaps next time on your own bus/train journey sometime soon,youll take a few extra minutes to survery those around you,never know what it might inspire you to think about.Keep the poetry coming Benji,and i need a movie review from you for febuary,last one was brillant,very well reviewed.

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