Waiting for the Bus
by Nix Winter
all rights reserved
Note: No... no pretty red head sat next to me at the bus stop. I didn't buy any chicken.. but I can dream, right?
It was a bad hair cut. It had been a bad hair cut on the day she got it. Three weeks later, it was still a bad hair cut. She sat on the end of a final covered gird that passed for a bus stop, a bag of groceries between her feet and the sun basting her. The bus stop wasn't far outside of Seattle. The big yellow thing wasn't supposed to have power in this part of the world.
If she'd been a painting, she would have been done by Ruben, well, except for the bad hair cut. Short fine brown hair stood on end, the way curls would make a mohawk. Sitting there in the heat, she imagined it looked like a squashed cinnamon roll. If that were the case then the gray at her temples could be the frosting. She leaned back against the hot glass of the bus stop. She had work to do, things waiting for her at home, but she'd just missed the bus. It had displayed not the slightest concern for her as she had crossed the street and rushed to catch it. Summer heat melted her, even if she were too slow for it to still be the summer of her life. Early fall maybe, even if she had no leaves, but it was colors that fell away. Twenty-four minutes held her hostage until the next bus arrived.
There were no children for her to worry about anymore. They were grown and well into the early summer of their lives. A year, a season, just the way people had chosen to keep time, to mark the passing of time until the next bus should arrive. Spring, summer, fall, none of them really mattered. Just labels and they didn't mean anything, not anything important, in any case. What really mattered were expiration dates.
"Excuse me," a soft voice asked, "Has the bus come already?"
She looked up, straightened a bit, felt glad she'd worn her favorite tee-shirt. "Uh, another'll be by in about twenty minutes."
The new comer sat down on the other end of the hot bus stop bench. With a sigh, she crossed her wrists behind the back of her head. "Too hot today."
Nineteen minutes bound them together.
"So," the red head said, pointing at a dangling plastic keychain, "you like Naruto? Go to Baka-con?"
She smiled, as if it had just become spring again. Without thinking about it, she turned, one knee bending, years falling away. "Yeah! Did you go? I went as Naruto last year. I've done Alucard too though, and I really want to do Sebastian, though I'm really," she slowed, the age coming back, "a little too fat for that."
"I want to be Gaara this next year." The new comer had the most beautiful earth colored eyes, like the secrets of the forest. "Ever read any good GaaraxNaruto?"
Their eyes locked. What hold has spring? A wine in the spring of its life is only a juice. "I could write one, maybe."
"Do you go to the Women's Anime Group on Saturdays?"
"I always wanted to go."
Ten minutes left and they were shorter now than the other minutes had been.
"I just got some chicken. Want to come over and watch the latest episode?" Not that chicken and anime have anything to do with each other, other than one being an excuse for the other.
She brushed her fingers over her temples, keenly aware that silver was not frosting. Maybe friendship, love, shared chicken, maybe these were the things of spring and it was too hot today to be spring. Don't talk to strangers.
Strangers can't really smile the way the red head could though, a bright and welcoming smile like the day wasn't even hot anymore. "I'm sorry. I can't tonight. What about lunch tomorrow?"
Five minutes stacked up as if they were a house of cards, but tilting towards something rare like a rainbow without rain.
"I'd like that," she said, pulling a book mark with her email address on it from her bag. "Email me?"
Ashes and expiration dates, that's what that minute felt like.
"I'm Gaaralovesnaruto on DA," Red said as she tucked the bookmark into her bag. "I bet you make a really cute Naruto."
The very next minute felt like sakura blossoms and Diet Coke.
"I bet you make a great Gaara." Smiling, when it really connects everything, it's like a clock work falling in place and dumping butterflies free into one's blood.
The bus came. The last few minutes evaporated in that smile. Anything was possible. Believe it!