Without knowing

You’ve never seen her so happy. You wish you knew her name, to be brave enough to ask. She looks as if she wouldn’t mind, but she doesn’t look in your direction for long enough.

Like you, she always sits in the same seat, same departure, same destination until she turns left, you right. Different clothes but same shoes. Hers are black high-gloss high heels that make you ever so slightly horny… no, childlike, the years strip away every time you see her.

You figure she’s nearing retiring age, maybe three or four years older than you at most.

She doesn’t wear a wedding ring but you think she has children. You’re not sure why but she looks the type; homely, kind, with no weight on her shoulders other than maybe that of a young grandchild. Widowed… or divorced, for a while, like you.

You’d like to take her on your boat, her whole family, go away for a weekend, somewhere like the Norfolk Broads where it’s flat. Or play something to her on your Steinbeck when you’re alone with her, after a nice meal or the theatre.

You don’t dress to match your wealth but she doesn’t strike you as the sort of person to care, not about money, only the important things like family and love.

It’s why you travel by bus, a car too lonely, even with a chauffeur. You tried it for a while but it wasn’t you, your newfound wealth comfortable yet uncomforting.

You can barely remember what it feels like to be in love. You’ve been doing well lately, not dwelling, and she’s been helping. Without knowing, she’s your Samaritan, just seeing her gives you something to think about as you sit behind your desk on the twentieth floor of your new high-rise office.

Your stop is coming up, and you start the dread the next forty-eight hours, a weekend without the bus journeys, without her.

You go to stand and she reaches out for the handrail. Skin missing skin by an inch or two.

“Sorry,” she says, but there’s no apology needed. “You work at McCardie’s, don’t you,” she adds.

You want to say something but that will give away your accent, that you are McCardie, so you just nod.

“I work for the opposition,” she says, and you know she means Cohen & Sons.

Before you can stop yourself, you laugh and she smiles, her green eyes luminescent.

The bus stops and you signal for her to go first. She bows her head and you follow her off the bus. Instead of going left, she stops, turns and faces you. You want to go right, head for your office but your feet won’t move.

She holds out her hand. “Flora Cohen. Jack was my husband. He dressed just like you. Quiet too.”

***

Photography courtesy of morguefile.com.

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