For your safety, please hold on

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Stop #117 — Kingly and Seventh — 6:54 AM

He woke and slowly detangled his body from hers, folding her limbs back on herself like origami. Lost in her dreams, she murmured softly into his shoulder, her hair a tangled veil across her face. He paused, and trailed his fingers down the dinosaur ridges of her spine, exposed through her thin cotton shirt. He imagined each little vertebra was a speed bump, and his hand was a race car, dipping, swerving, sliding. Then he got up and was halfway out the door before she stirred, pulling the blue raincoat he left across her legs around her body like a caterpillar spinning a silk cocoon. She looked at him with sleepy eyes and saw that he was leaving, and knew he had no intention of saying goodbye. She stared and him and he stared back at her and then she held out her palm as if offering him an invisible gift.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t be,” she said. She looked out the window, suffocating her face in his jacket, bleeding last night’s mascara all over it. She didn’t see him go, but she heard the door squeak shut.

Stop #1 — Main Street — 7:57 PM

She had bright red headphones and bright red lipstick and bright red shoes and a black eye. She was half standing, half swaying, her wrist passively slipped through the loop, her hand dangling there like a hangman in a noose. When they rounded a corner too fast she lurched forward and into his chest, her lips leaving a smear of red across his neck, like blood, like war paint. Her face turned the same shade of scarlet.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Don’t be,” he said. She was already rushing off and out the doors. He touched the place her lips collided with his throat, and it sent electricity through his veins like he placed a wet finger in a socket.

Stop #16 — Queens and Fourth — 3:33 PM


He had his backpack on the seat beside him just in case. His heart was hopeful and every time the doors beeped open he looked up, only to have his eyes met with disappointment as a parade of elderly women and unshowered college kids shuffled on, so he stopped looking. When a hand reached out to move his bag, he almost snapped at it, but then looked up and saw her face, her rosy cheeks, her eyes like two diamonds buried in a mountainside of hard times. He moved his bag and she collapsed into the seat beside him, letting out a sigh like oxygen being released from a balloon. She ran her hands through her long sunburnt curls and then, almost accidentally, she let one settle on his lap like a leaf sailing from a branch. Her hand sent electricity through his veins and he sat rigid. She retrieved her palm immediately.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Don’t be,” he said. He captured her hand with his own as carefully and delicately as a child catches butterflies in a net.

Stop #3 — Harlow Road — 8:01 AM

Her bruise was fading like a spring day, all yellows and greens underscored by the blooms of purple crocuses. She had bright red headphones and bright red lipstick and bright red shoes. She was sitting sideways in a crooked seat and with every bump, her whole body rumbled like she was a house built over a fault line during an earthquake. When he got on he looked right at her and his eyes shot laser beams that collided with her irises and blinded her for a moment so she pretended she couldn’t see him. He was walking past her when a turn tossed him into the seat beside her, his body crushing her hand that lay absently on the vinyl cushion.

“I’m sorry,” he said. He struggled to get to his feet.

“Don’t be,” she said, and caught his blue raincoat, gently tugging him back down beside her.

Stop #96 — Young Street — 8:45 PM

They got on together and there was one spare seat and he offered it to her and she scowled at him and so the seat sat vacant and she stood staring out the window and he stood staring at her, her bottom lip caught between her teeth, her forehead furrowed in a frown. He reached out and touched her elbow, she jerked away as if he poked her with a cattle prod. Then she sighed like a tire deflating, and turned to face him, and rested her crinkled brow against his head.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Don’t be,” he said. He placed his arm around her waist like a noose, pulling her into him like her body was a puzzle piece that only belonged fitted against his body. He nestled his nose into her neck and she turned and looked out the window again, the rain on the glass making patterns that mimicked the tears on her face.

Stop #56 — Furlowe and Tenth — 10:02 PM

They stumbled on together and there was one spare seat and they cascaded into it with a splash of giggles. She landed on top of him and before she could struggle to stand he captured her in his arms and held her like she was the safety bar on a rickety old roller coaster and his grip was the only thing keeping him from flying out into the air. She wriggled around and faced him, touching the smears of her lipstick all over his face like abstract art splattered across his skin.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Don’t be,” he said and brought her crimson lips to his.

Stop #157 — Terminal — 9:02 AM

He was wearing black headphones and black shoes and had a new black raincoat. When she got on she looked right at him and shot lasers through her eyes that blinded him temporarily so he pretended he couldn’t see her. She stood close enough for her body just to be in his view, and he stole secret glances at her swaying like a young birch tree caught in a window storm. He wanted to stand and offer her his seat, but his legs would not move. He looked down at his hands, his calloused palms, the absent spaces between his fingers where hers used to be.

“I’m sorry,” he said, quietly. She caught his eye and gave him a fractured smile, an acknowledging nod.

“Don’t be,” she whispered.