An End (or A Beginning)
This is the last time I’ll have to ride this offensive form of mass transportation. It smells even worse than usual. The guy in the front row is dirtier than I’ve ever seen him. The floor is definitely stickier; I can barely lift my shoes to take a step. I strategically sit in the space that is simultaneously the farthest from every other person I’m forced to share oxygen with. I can’t wait to get home today. I’ve finally saved enough to buy my neighbor’s pickup, and I’ll never have to ride the bus again.
I actively avoid eye contact with the other passengers. I don’t want to smile and make conversation. I just want to get off this bus and never get on it again. A guy near the front catches my eye and I’m unable to look away. He is actually kinda cute. His straight, dark hair falls in a parted curtain, hiding most of his face. One electric blue eye peeks at me through the crack. Dimples appear on either side of his pale lips, just under the reach of the black curtain.
My thrilling, dirty white shoelaces recapture my attention and I admonish myself for looking up in the first place. I close my eyes and see his smirk on the back of my lids. I shake the image from my mind, replacing it with an old S-10. Black lines don’t shine quite as much as they used to. Rust eats away a spot of fender near the front tire well. I can’t wait ’til that hunk of metal is mine.
Chipped black paint is suddenly replaced with sleek, ebony hair and one lapis eye. A sigh escapes before I can hold it back. Almost there. One more stop. I don’t open my eyes again until I hear the door open. The gorgeous stranger and I rise in unison. A trickle of fear caresses the base of my spine. No one ever gets off at my stop. I follow him down the steps then pass him as he checks something on his phone.
“Hey,” he calls. I shudder, but turn around none-the-less.
“I’m a little lost.” Deep parentheses erupt around his heart-stopping smile. “Can you help me find…” he checks his phone again, “616 Chase Street?” He looks down at me hopefully.
“Uh, sure. It’s just down the road here, third left. I’m headed that way anyway; I’ll show you.” I am a little uneasy that this guy is going to my apartment building, but he already has the address and he isn’t following me like a stalker, so I dismiss the feeling.
“Thanks. I’m Simon,” he says, hand outstretched.
“Izzy, uh, Isabelle.” I start walking and he follows.
“So, Izzy, you work at Sidney’s restaurant?” He nods at the logo on my shirt.
“Um, yeah. It’s not as bad as you’d think. Those country club snobs tip pretty well.” A soft laugh eases through his lips, drawing my attention to his dimples. A girl could get lost in those caves.
“You have a pretty smile,” he whispers before I even realize I’m smiling. It doesn’t happen often.
“Thanks. It’s just a couple more buildings down. What brings you here?”
“I’m buying a truck. I’m in a hurry, actually. The guy said he might be selling it tonight or tomorrow. I’d like to get there before he does.” He scans the parking lot, “There it is! I hope it’s a good as my friend says it it.” His pace quickens.
I’m dumbstruck. I told Jeff I wanted it and I’d have the money after work today, tomorrow at the latest. This guy is so not getting my truck. “Um, it actually sold today,” I say, stretching the truth just a bit.
He turns to me, “How do you know? The sign is still in the window.” He looks back at my truck. “He said if I got here before 8, I could have it. It’s only fifteen after. Maybe I’m not too late.” He turns and heads for apartment 12, and I catch up.
“Wait, Simon. I told you, it’s sold. I hope you’ve got a ride home. That was the last bus tonight.” I look pointedly at him. Apprehension dawns in his heavenly eyes and I feel kinda guilty. “Look, I’m sorry you came all the way out here. I told Jeff I’d have the money after work today. He shouldn’t have told you that.”
“But you haven’t bought it yet. I brought an extra hundred just in case. Who do you think he’ll sell it to?” His eyes sparkle.
I don’t have another hundred to spend. I just stare at him, openmouthed. My blood begins to boil.
“Hey, I’m just kidding. Calm down. Tell you what: I’ll let you have the truck, if you’ll give me a ride home and let me buy you dinner on the way.” His smile erases my rising anger in two seconds flat. Was he really asking me out?
“Deal. I just gotta change first. I live right next door to Jeff,” the asshole. “Um, can you wait out here? My place isn’t really suitable for company.”
“Sure, Izzy. No problem.” I really just want to curl up in those dimples and take a nap. I slip inside and make a mad dash to find clean clothes.
I’m pulling up my jeans, searching for my black slinky tee in clean pile on the couch, when I hear voices outside. Surely he’s not out there buying my truck while I’m stuck in here half-naked. I listen at the door and hear Jeff talking.
“See, I told you she was cute,” he says with a rough laugh.
“I know, I know. You were right. I kept telling myself I was wasting my time riding on that nasty bus. I figured I’d end up riding it all the way back home. But when I saw her get on, I knew I’d be coming here tonight. I can’t believe she doesn’t have a boyfriend.”
“All she does is work. Me and Mary are always trying to get her to come over or go out with us, but she just keeps to herself. I’m glad you came tonight, Simon. She’s a nice girl and needs to relax a little. You’d better be good to her.”
“Oh, please, Jeff.” I can hear his eyes roll. “You know I’m not into one night stands. I’m looking for something more long term.”
“I know. That’s why I gave you the heads-up in the first place. I’d better get back inside before she gets back. See you in a minute.” He laughs again and shuts the door.
I stand in my living room, in just jeans and a bra, with my ear against my front door. Really?! Jeff is setting me up? I must be more pathetic than I thought. Simon is pretty cute, though. I guess I can just see what happens.