Issue 06: To Hold Nothing Back

Zanne Blair

He was still dripping, a puddle formed on the floor where he sat, water pooled on the seat and a trickle started to spill down, Jackie wondered why he didn’t take his rain gear off before getting everything wet, were his seatmates sitting in the runoff from his plastic coat?

The bus was stuffy, saturated with a warm clamminess that made her neck itch. It wasn’t even 8 am and Jackie was sweating, she slipped off her down layer hoping for some relief and waved her hand in front of her to try to get the air to move. Jackie grabbed her sleeve with her fingertips, pulled her hand deeper into her sleeve and wiped the thick layer of condensation from the window, making a mental note to wash her hands when she reached the office. The bus had been stopped for too long, she looked up toward the front of the bus. The door was open, the windshield wipers pushing the downpour free from the window, the bus driver wiping condensation from the front wall of windows. Jackie looked around her, no one else seemed to be concerned. She settled back into her seat, shifting her bag on her lap, hoping to be comfortable.

There was no clear view out of her window, blurred lights and shapes passed by as the bus sat there. Full on fall, soon to be winter, Jackie closed her eyes, trying to imagine the warm sun and sand from her visit to Hawaii. But with another deep breath, she was quickly reminded of how wet the air was. Her shoulders dropped, defeated.

She looked up. A storm soaked man walked onto the bus. Electric yellow vest over a green rain jacket, a bright blue bike helmet covered in blinking lights, slick and shiny from the rain, was walking towards the back of the bus, Jackie thought he eyed the empty seat next to her, she put her bag on the seat, not moving her eyes from his face. He wiped a sheet of rain from his face, water spraying the other commuters. Her stomach turned, grateful she had been out of range from that unfortunate shower. Jackie shifted and looked down at her boot, away from whatever was coming toward her. The bus started to move, he lunged forward and grabbed the pole, and stepped up to sit in one of the raised seats. She looked out the window, wiping away the condensation again, hoping for a better view. Hoping for the sun.

Trying to focus on the lights and shapes outside of the window a dull throb erupted over her temples, she shifted her focus and slowly turned into the bus. Everyone was on their phones, too bad for them, thought Jackie, they can’t even disconnect for their thirty-minute ride. She looked at the blinking helmet man, he had his head buried in a book.

He must have felt her stare, he looked up and in her direction, catching her eyes, he smiled, wiped his nose with the back of his hand and returned to his book, edges now dampened from the rain left over on his hands. Jackie smiled back at him only after he had shifted his attention.

He was still dripping, a puddle formed on the floor where he sat, water pooled on the seat and a trickle started to spill down, Jackie wondered why he didn’t take his rain gear off before getting everything wet, were his seatmates sitting in the runoff from his plastic coat?

He had long skinny fingers. Jackie thought that didn’t seem to match the rest of his body, he was not overly tall, he was well under six feet, he didn’t seem to have long legs or arms, but his fingers were long. He sat forward, hunched over his lap, book cradled in his hand. Jackie couldn’t read the cover, he was halfway through his book and turned the pages quickly. His shoulders were not too wide, but it was hard to tell under the vest and stiff coat. Dark wet curls stuck to his forehead, he was either wearing mascara or had incredible eyelashes. She immediately wondered what it would be like to feel him next to her. He turned another page and shifted. He caught her staring again, he smiled and his clear blue eyes lingered over her longer this time before turning back into his book. She watched as he kept his eyes on the pages and his smile grew.

Jackie suddenly felt self-conscious. She could feel the color in her cheeks change, the bottom of her throat where it met her chest started burning up. She didn’t even like guys dressed as sloppy commuters. She tried to convince herself that he probably reeked, and he certainly didn’t look good naked. She turned and tried to look out her window, wiped the condensation away, and wondered when she would be able to get off the bus. She was so hot now, she felt a trickle of sweat at the middle of her back. She shifted and looked up, the bus had been stopped again for too long.

He was gone, he must have gotten off at the last stop. The rain pounded harder on the window, she had two stops to go. She wiped the window again, in the cleared spot she saw a bright blue helmet with blinking lights, she wiped again, he looked up and nodded his head, turning away from the bus up the hill.

With his back to her, Jackie waved. Having known he would arrive at his destination drenched, she watched his blinking helmet weave its way up the block, and she considered what would have happened if he had sat next to her on the ride in.

Later that night as Jackie tried to fall asleep, the breath of her husband falling softly on her neck, she wondered who the blue helmet man was sleeping next to.


Ed. note: Zanne is a fair weather rider who loves to walk in the woods or along the beach in the pouring rain.


Ed. note: After a good run of 42 issues, our magazine app is no
longer available, but we’ve archived
the
content here on our blog.


Also published on Medium.