It was the end of another Wednesday; that day that some love and others loathe, hanging midway between dread and release. A dark, damp day in March, one still gripped in a winter’s fist that seemed to clutch all the harder the longer the days grew.
Julia ached. The sun slipped towards the horizon, unseen behind a vast expanse of unremarkable clouds, and she locked up the building, unseen by any eyes who cared. Long days led to longer ones. One restless night’s sleep led to another, until she passed through the world a walking wraith, attending her duties with all the enthusiasm of an atomaton.
She leaned against the door and closed her eyes. Her day far from over, the walk to the bus stop felt as insurmountable as a marathon.
“I just want to sleep.” Her wish slipped out, finding shape on the wind and drifting away.
How far away would she have to travel to find a sunset that let to a blissful night of sleep?
“Farther than you have the money or time to spare,” she said aloud, the words startling her back to motion.
The bus stop, as ever, stood desolate and empty. She perched on the bench and waited, the far off sound of a live band playing taunting her. Minutes ticked by like little bombs set off far far away, unnoticed, unfelt. The drone of the bus’s arrival filled the air with the sharp, nose searing scent of burning fuel, the glass glowing in the dimming light. Julia climbed aboard, ears ringing with the thrum of the motor. The driver had long ago given up on engaging her in conversation. The doors closed behind her, sealing her inside. Her body moved with the movements of the bus, industrialized sea legs keeping her upright and moving forward, backward.
Smeared fingerprints promised love, sex, and obscenity in fleeting glimpses on the windows. Julia stared past them. She’d read them all, at one point or another. Watched Sarah love Jack, then Thom, then Frank and, latest, Serena. Witnessed breakups and plunges into love recorded in the ever ephemeral ink of sweat and tear and oil on glass in spare moments on a bus.
“Is this seat taken?”
Julia turned from the window. Everything slowed, streetlights streaking in her peripheral vision. The couple was young. In a moment of honesty she admitted they were likely her age.
But the pair held life inside them like a torch.
The sweet, soft voice reached into her again; jumper cables on her heart that jolted her out of her walking catatonia. “May we seat here?”
With a bob of her head Julia assented, watching them slip into the seats facing her. He was one of those beautiful, androgynous boys that make women and men search for moisture in the desert of their mouths. Lips that begged to be bruised, eyes so blue she thought hot flames watched her, a tousled mane of rich brown hair. Only the fainted shadow on his jaw betrayed his gender, that and the fine detail of his hands. They were an artist’s hands. Somewhere in the muddiest depths of Julia’s mind her imagination cast him as a painter, musician, sculptor. Something, anything, that stroked the fine, elusive edges of beauty and inspiration with familiarity.
Julia’s gaze slid to his companion. She sat, petite and demur, at his side. It would have been cruel to call her beautiful, and her faded hazel eyes met Julia’s, calm and knowing. She wondered at their pairing until he dipped his head, his lips shaping the air close to her ear. The other woman’s lips curved into a smile, her eyes warmed, the expression transforming her plainness into beatific bliss.
They kissed. Julia’s heart beat a steady tempo that matched the soft sounds of the bus tires crossing the joints in the pavement. He fed on his companion’s mouth, a vampire for the soft sounds his teeth and tongue teased forth. And when his fingers spread on that soft jawline, stroking it, Julia’s body woke. She felt the weight of her jacket over her shoulders, a lover’s arm embracing. The seat bit into the back of her legs, through her skirt, with broken, vinyl teeth. When he traced a line down that slender neck, something shuddered and roused deep in her body.
His hand skimmed down his lover’s body, leaving a path of rumbled cloth and taut nipples pressing for more. Lost in his kiss the woman shifted in obedience to his gentle, silent commands. His fingers plucked her jeans open, letting the zipper down with a soft, metallic sigh. Julia’s teeth closed on her lower lip when his hand disappeared beneath the denim and the sounds he fed on ripened.
The world condensed around them. Julia’s eyes slid from their tangling mouths to his working hand and back, devouring the visual feast they were gifting to her. She’d been numb for so long, her wakening body trembled with sensation. She shifted with the swaying of the bus, the movement sliding her clothes over her flesh, an absent lover’s caress. Lust coiled and twisted, a serpentine monster growing deep in her stomach. She could smell the woman, the sweet musky scent of pleasure and desire. His cock made a distinct ridge in his pants, one he ignored as he continued to play the instrument of his companion’s body.
The woman’s body tightened. Muscles along her temple fluttered, her pulse vibrating beneath the delicate flesh of her throat.
Julia’s body, so long running on automatic, roused her mind as the bus began to slow. A fleeting moment of panic lifted through her, sending her stomach tumbling. She rose. The other woman’s eyes fluttered open and her hand flew out, closing around Julia’s wrist. Color blushed her cheeks.
Heartbeats pounded against each other, sharing a base level of knowledge. Refusing to slide back into apathy she leaned down and pressed her lips to the other woman’s.
The kiss shot a bolt of electricity down her spine. The stranger came, feeding a low cry of arrival into Julia’s mouth. The kiss lasted forever and yet only seconds passed. She lifted and met his pale eyes.
“Thank you,” she whispered. Her body swayed into them as the bus stopped. She resisted the impulse to kiss that full lipped mouth and turned away as the rear doors hissed open. Cold air curled around her, drawing her out into the night. Julia touched her lips, memorizing the shape of them, the shadow of the other’s lips lingering. “Thank you.”