30-minute write 27 December 2018

The method tonight was dialogue, the prompt a first line: As soon as she walked in, she felt the tension. 

——

As soon as she walked in, she felt the tension. But looking around, it was just an ordinary bus station on an ordinary Sunday. She was there very early, because she didn’t want to miss her connection at Boston Logan, and the conference facilitators hadn’t helped make arrangements. Everyone else was talking a flight out of Providence. She had been going to do that, but decided the bus was safer.

The window on the bus company office had a shade on it, and clearly no one was there. No sign up, either, to say when they’d be back.

A man waited, but he had no bags, just a nice jacket, one of those long ones that went to the knees. She thought, “what do they call that? oh, yeah, a duster…”

“Some people call it a duster, but I don’t think it’s dusty, do you?”

She startled. “No”, she said, “it looks elegant. Like velvet.”

There was a pause. He smiled contentedly at her, looking vaguely familiar but in a way she couldn’t place.

“Were you here for a conference?” she asked, hoping she wasn’t supposed to know his name.

“No, I’m here for an appointment. How about you?” His voice was pleasant. More than pleasant really, almost seductive. But he wasn’t looking at her in any special way, so maybe it was just his natural voice.

“Oh, just going to Logan.” There was a pause. She looked at the shaded window. “Do you know when someone will be here? I’m not sure which bus I’m supposed to get on.”

“You were at the conference,” he said. “Why didn’t you go to Providence airport, like the others did?”

Oh dear, maybe he had been working at the conference, and she just didn’t notice him. Did he work at the hotel? Surely she would have remembered him, with those dark, dark eyes. He looked so familiar, but not from there.

“Um, well, to be honest, that little plane made me nervous, after what happened last week.”

“Oh, yes, the crash. That was interesting,” he said placidly. “Interesting” wasn’t the word she’d been expecting, and she must have looked perplexed. “Complicated,” he said carefully, “more than expected.”

She looked toward the office window again. “So,” he said, “you decided the bus was safer.”

“Yes,” she said, and wondered why she felt the tension again. Nothing was happening. No one else had come in to the station. A group of teenagers were visible outside, through the big windows. The sun was just going down, and everything was getting that grey twilight color.

Suddenly it occurred to her. He’d been at La Guardia when she had arrived three days before. That’s where she’d seen him.

“Wait,” she said, “didn’t I see you at La Guardia on Wednesday night?”

“Yes.” he said.

“Did you see me there? I think I saw you.”

“Yes, I saw you, and you saw me.”

It was coming back to her now. She had been so jet-lagged and distracted. She had seen him and had felt frightened, without knowing why. How could she have forgotten?

“Do I know you?” she said, her voice almost a whisper now.

“Yes, I think so,” he said, “We flirted once at an intersection in downtown Denver, and once in the hospital when you had an infection.”

The teenagers on the sidewalk receded from her vision, and the darkness seemed to be gathering inside as well as outside. Things were getting a little vague.

“It’s funny, I don’t actually remember, and yet it sounds familiar, and you look familiar.” He smiled gently, and looked almost sad.

“Did you know that I was afraid of the airplane, the one that went down?”

“Yes, I was there as they were boarding. I saw you leave the airport.”

“I wondered,” she said nervously, “why I couldn’t get on the plane. Then it went down.”

“Well,” he said softly, “I was surprised to see you.”

“Why?” she said, but no longer felt afraid, just very tired.

“Because our appointment wasn’t for New York. It was for Providence.”

He smiled and took her hand.

“And it wasn’t for an airport, or a plane. It was for a bus station.”