"Wordless” by Harry Markov
Today the bus brimmed with passengers, which wasn’t unlike any other week day. Passenger after passenger stepped in and elbowed their way forward to claim a spot for themselves. This continued until each silhouette nested into another and the space around me blurred into one colorful collage of fabric and faces. I managed to scuttle in a sun bathed corner and stood still, swaying with the bus’ rhythmic stops and starts. Soon he’d board as well and our morning game could begin.
I couldn’t get a good visual, so I resorted to second best. Among distilled human fragrances, cheap fruit deo, aftershave and I searched for his perfume. I caught an accidental whiff one day, when I brushed off him on my way out and now could find it anywhere in enclosed spaces. This was all much to my surprise since my sense of smell was dull, misguided at best, but all around him all my senses spiked. No, I couldn’t hear him breathe a mile away, though he had a deep breath, strong lungs. At least his chest cavity deceived me into thinking so. Once I even had the luck of hearing him talk, the inconsistent small chat over the mobile phone that really showed an individual’s personality and his voice was something else and special.
Rather cliché, but how could you not go there, when what this man makes me feel is beyond the reach of words. I have read a lot of books on the matter, bound to happen since I work at a library and after that in a late night coffee shop – bookstore and how could you not pay attention to the glossy cover art on some of these novels. And all the big volumes come slightly skewed around infatuation, attraction and the mystery of relationship. And I think we had a relationship with him. A silent relationship.
Mornings we greeted each other with a smile and a knowing look, anticipating the hour long traffic for me and the longer ride for him. Late at night we encountered each other in the subway separated by the plastic white seats, where we swayed to the tracks staccato passing and told our day’s passing with head nods. Of course there were questions in my mind. A constant, chattering cacophony of questions. It was a wordless courtship and resembled bathroom conversations with the mirror and your imagination. Why was a man in a decent quality black suit doing with public transportation? Was he single? Had to be, otherwise why bother with me. How old was he and did he like his stubble? In my mind he was a philanthropic lawyer or big shot manager in a company, who liked being cramped in a bus. Rich people had their eccentrics. But how many sculpture worthy people matched their beauty on the inside, especially when fat checks were in play. Sigh, whatever he was, my man, silent in the chaos, gave that all around good guy vibe.
It didn’t matter how far away we were in the bus, he would always give me a sign, slip a message or wave with the umbrella on a rainy day. I had mastered all the skills of observation or so it felt like, a private hunting game of hide and seek. On a sunny day I would spy his face in the window’s reflection and caress his features with my fingertips or catch a glimpse of his blue shirt’s collar, business case or top of wavy cinnamon hair. At the same time I could also feel, when he watched me, his stare clinging on me like elastic binds.
Today though was different. Today all of the small pieces towered above me. I didn’t even notice, couldn’t even move, when his perfume expanded and took all air around me hostage. His arm reached in front of me and anchored on the aluminum grip, the bright blue sleeve waving like a strip of the sky in front of me and that was when reality became dysfunctional. Five months I’ve nibbled from the edge of this feeling and now an overdose exposed me to an emotional livewire. It injected chaos within me, but on the outside I was no different from an exhibit at Madam T. museum, petrified but slowly melting. And so the ride continued, fearful and wanted and me torn in the middle. Should I speak or should I stay silent. Words, spoken and hidden, thwarted and played with always ruined what started with a glance full of wanton. My lips quivered, indecisive; cracked in a thin line with a ‘hi’ in the hatching.
Yet the moment passed and the ‘hi’ remained stationary on my lips, unmouthed and unheard. The bus parted doors on my stop and I stepped down, feet heavy with gravity. I turned and saw his face was blank and in his eyes I saw farewell.
Perhaps he lost himself in the sea of numbers that was the abundance of bus lines or had a new routine. I could only pluck questions and fantasies from thin air in the bus, the same air which held our relationship with no words.
I am posting an oldie. Explanation as to why will come, when I can type and link properly. :D