Nasrin noticed in the corner o’ her eye an ol’ man next to her opening his mouth; she pulled off her headphones to hear him ask to use her seat for the shaky Chihuahua on his lap. Nasrin stood, barely steady in the still-moving bus by clutching a bar & stared round the bus, only to stop on the guy ’cross from her patting an empty seat & saying with a neutral expression,—1 that seemed to express nothing—“You can sit here if you want.”
Nasrin nodded & stumbled o’er. She sat huddled like a refugee. The 1st thing she did was hastily turn down her MP3 volume, with the implied ’scuse being that she didn’t want to be rude, when in truth she just didn’t want her shitty music choices to spread like scandalous photos.
The appearance o’ the guy stuck in her mind: a smooth, youthful face snug in a purple hoodie with a li’l ring on his bottom lip & jeans with a million wrinkles that stretched past the edges o’ his untied sneakers.
She could see through the corner o’ her eyes the him staring down @ his phone, face as neutral as before.
You’re being paranoid, ’gain. It means nothing.
But that didn’t make it rock-hard to keep her hands holding her book steady & keep them from drenching her book in sweat.
E’en if he hasn’t proven beyond reasonable doubt, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
In abstract, that did, indeed, seem valid; & yet, she knew from reams o’ experience that such an inquiry did have quite a possibility o’ hurting.
But despite the negative consequences hanging o’er her head like Damocles’s sword, her mind erupted with images o’ them talking—just opening & closing their mouths emptily, since she figured the brilliance o’ Donkey Kong Country 2’s level design wouldn’t be particularly riveting to anyone else & didn’t know anything ’bout his interests—& meeting @ parks & brick walls & renting an apartment together & putting their hands on each other’s knees, his soft-seeming hand pressing the loose fabric o’ her sweats down gainst her skin, rubbing the thin, scratchy cords—
Then the bus stopped & without glancing ’way from his phone, the guy next to her rose & walked out the bus.
She ne’er saw that guy ’gain, but did entertain her mind when ’twas far too distracted to register words on her book with alternate realities o’ what happened on that day on the bus, or with imagined futures in which she did see him ’gain.