I don’t mean to eavesdrop on the breakup. My earbuds are in but I’ve woken up with a start, and the podcast that I was listening to has ended. I don’t have noise-canceling earbuds, so if there isn’t anything playing I can hear everything going on around me.
She’s telling him a version of “it’s not you; it’s me,” and it is long-winded and involves a mention of her “journey” and I get whiplash from cringing so hard.
He sits there and stares at his trainers on the rubber ridges of the bus floor. (Getting dumped on a bus is pretty bad; getting dumped while sitting in the sideways seats is worse. Every movement of the bus is shoving you into the last person you want to touch.) Occasionally he turns to her with a tearful glare but he cannot look at her for long.
She keeps talking, mostly too soft to hear. She reaches for his hand, and he does not move away, but his hand is prey, playing dead, while she swoops and takes.
Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Take On Me – 2017 Acoustic” by a-ha. Sometimes I miss taking the bus to work.