I am sitting at the front of the bus, going anywhere. I didn’t check the number on the front of the bus, I know I’ll end up somewhere. I sit on the top deck, front seat, enjoying the trundle and jolt, listening to phone chatter and the honk of the bus. I could almost hear the bus driver’s stress rattling his heart.
Sometimes people come and sat next to me, huffing and fussing so wrapped up in their own worlds and their need to get somewhere. For a while I live through them, listen to their phone dramas, the chink-chink of music through their earphones. I remain unobtrusive, the only movement is me biting my nails. That’s a habit I’ve had since I can remember, I go through a few weeks without, then I have a blissful afternoon going nowhere and gnaw away to fill my attention.
Then a woman sits down in the seat across the aisle. She starts chewing at her fingernails too. Lots of people do, and it takes a while to notice the oddness: each nail she bites is the exact same as the one I’m biting at that moment. Right forefinger, left little finger. I stop. She stops. I start, she starts. So I play a little. I scratch my left ear, she scratches her left ear. I shuffle in the seat and cross my legs. She shuffles in her seat and crosses her legs. It’s a beautiful thing and I want to catch her eye, but I’m scared to spoil it, so I stare straight ahead. Knowing that through these little moments we are connected, sisters.
When she gets off, I feel slightly heartbroken. No one ever notices me, but she did. She paid attention. In a small way, it was beautiful. I carry on to nowhere.