The tranquillity of a late night stroll can be appealing to those who seek peace of mind and internal-calm.
Crisp night air, mingling with the dull taste of a cool and gentle rain, can combine to create an atmosphere of reflective serenity and wakeful meditation.
With a black, leather briefcase safely tucked under his arm, he casually strolled along the quiet city street with absolutely no qualms in regards to his drenched jacket or soaking hair.
It felt invigorating. It was cleansing.
His shoes clapped against the pavement which acted as a welcome distraction in the silence of his empty path, and the silhouette of the vacant bus stop grew closer with every step.
It enticed him with the offer of a cold metal seat which could comfort his growing sense of lethargy which had only been heightened by the sleepy atmosphere of this late night promenade.
As he approached the stop, he noticed a soft muffled cough resonating from under the canopy.
There, seated at the far end, was another person – quiet like himself – soaked from head to toe, and waiting for the bus to transport them home.
He took a seat on the opposite end of the metal bench, which placed him approximately two meters away from the other bus stop resident.
Her cream coloured trench coat was wrapped around her, a belt holding it firmly in place, and a decorative scarf adorned her head.
Whether it was worn for the sake of previously keeping shelter from the rain, or for her own personal beliefs, the bright colours stood out amongst the monotone canvas of the empty night street.
For a moment, her head turned in his direction and tilted ever so slightly to the side. He quickly looked down at his brown shoes, assuming it rude of him to stare as he had been, but couldn’t help looking over again.
There was something about her that was different.
We all believe ourselves to be different. However, she really was. Her posture alone was enough to display a graceful demeanour, and her sedate expression promised the viewer a profound philosophy or story.
She must have caught him analyzing her presence because her body slowly turned towards him, which in turn had him responding in a similar fashion.
As they sat under the shade of the bus stop canopy, rain drizzling down upon the plastic, she asked him, “What do you see?”
He was definitely caught off guard, the bewilderment clear upon his face, as he gazed into the eyes that searched for an answer.
“Well, if you must ask, I see a young, beautiful, Middle Eastern, Muslim woman!”
That must be the correct answer, no?
Once again, his eyes searched through hers for any sign of contentment or agreement to his reply.
Her expression remained exquisitely solemn and her hands slowly clasped together in her lap.
“Ah, I see.”
“You don’t seem very happy with my response. I hope I haven’t offended you.
… What do you see when you look at me?”
Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly when she smiled and looked back in his direction. He knew something unexpected was coming.
In life, he’d learned to expect the unexpected when his own thoughts or opinions weren’t quite enough.
“I see you. I see the free ability of physical motion, and I see the silent power of personal thought and contemplation.
There is also the freedom of emotion and the right to opinion and belief.
I see dreams and hopes, and fears and anxieties.
I see a human. First and foremost, I see a human.
Age, aesthetic, race, religious belief and gender are all characteristics of our current selves. However, the first thing I see is your right to be.”
The low rumbling sound of an engine filled the air around them as a bus pulled up in front of them. After extending the mechanical length of her cane, the young, beautiful, Middle Eastern, Muslim woman rose to her feet and gave the gentleman a farewell nod.
The tapping sound of her cane, against the pavement and the metal of the bus, synced harmoniously with the almost ethereal notes of the late autumn night downpour.
He watched as she displayed her pass to the driver, most probably upside down, and then slowly walked through to take a seat by the window.
The wheels began to turn once again and the humming sound of the engine faded away until only the rainfall chorus remained to end this melancholic symphony.
Everything grew momentarily still.
“That was my bus…”
Story © Naziyah Mahmood, 2015
Excerpt on home page: https://naziyahmahmood.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-bus-stop/