I barely make it to the bus. I forgot my umbrella in the classroom because I was in a hurry to get out before the teacher came. I only went after her cause I overheard some girls talking about how she doesn’t have lunch with them anymore and never really hangs out with them. Lately she always looks a little sad. She’s not very good at hiding it. So I went out of the class since I didn’t really want to sit through an hour and a half of an old man lecturing us about how the future of the country is in our hands.
When I walk through the bus door soaked in rain and breathing heavily from running, I feel like this is a tad over dramatic. As if I did this grand romantic gesture of running in the rain just to see her. It’s not really like that. I just wanted to see if she’s alright and to have an excuse to skip class.
I go back to the back of the bus and sit next to her. “Hi” I say with half a smile and she looks back at me with a puzzled expression.
“Yeah hi. Aren’t you supposed to be in class right now?” she asks. “Aren’t you supposed to be in class right now? Or at home sick and not on a bus that’s going out of town?” I ask back. “Good point” she says and looks out the window staring at people passing by as the bus moves. I want to ask her a million different questions. Where are you going? Why? Did something happen? Are you okay?
We met on the first day of school and hit it off immediately. Even though we didn’t have that many similar interests we would always have something to talk about. Whether it’s running into each other on the way to school and walking together while laughing about what happened in class the previous day. Or “studying” together in the library until it closed, well not really studying but talking about our future. What we wanted to do after we graduate and our hopes and dreams. Talking to her never felt like work. It happened so naturally that we would lose track of time.
But that all changed soon enough. Our conversations became shorter and shorter as time went on and she felt more distant than before. More and more time passed and she continued to avoid me. My friends told me that she was giving me “hints” that she wasn’t interested anymore. But we were different than that. It was way more than flirtation, we were actually friends. But sometimes it felt more than that too.
“Okay tell me why you’re on this bus” she asks. There’s not that many people on the bus. There’s 3 people, a school girl towards the back and a couple sitting in the front. “I’ll tell you my reason if you tell me yours” I answer. “Okay change of topic” she says like she finally gave up. “How have you been lately?” I say for the first time in months. “Yeah can’t answer that question either.” she says with a hint of a smile. “So tell me, what can we talk about?” I say sounding a little angry without meaning to. I just really wanted to have a conversation with her like we used to. “Let’s talk about the financial crisis in Greece” she says. “Okay, Greece is broke as fuck and can’t pay back it’s depts. Next topic” I say and she finally laughs. Not an in hysterics laugh but a small one. But it’s still something. It feels good to hear her laugh again.
“I got it. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, living or dead, who would you choose?” she asks. She used to do this all the time. Ask completely random question that you wouldn’t otherwise talk about on a normal day. “Bonanno Pisano” I answer after a pause. “Bonanno? That sounds familiar” she says. “We learned about him last week in class. Remember?” I ask. “Oooh it’s blurry but it’s coming back to me. But just to make sure can you please explain to me who he is?” she says smiling unable to hide her embarrassment. “He was considered to be the architect of The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Still kinda is, but they’re not sure”. I remember this because it was taught during a class with my favorite teacher. He has so much charisma and genuinely cares about teaching and what he’s teaching. “What would you ask him?” she asks. “If he built it or not. If he did then how did he come up with the concept? How does he feel about it leaning? If he didn’t then how does he feel about being wrongfully assumed of building it?” I say. “If he was accused of building something that iconic must feel very conflicting. I mean, if he didn’t build it so he can’t feel good about it. But getting credit for that must not be a negative type of feeling. So conflicting.” She becomes quiet as if she’s considering his feelings for real. “What about you?” I ask. “Richard Linklater” she says. “The director? What would you talk about?” I ask. “Yup. I’d ask him about his movies and how he comes up with the concepts for it. What it’s like to work on such long projects” she says. “Or if he doesn’t want to talk about them we’d talk about life and what it’s all about.” she adds. “Okay I change my answer.” I say not knowing how she’d react. “If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be you” I say looking at her my heart beating fast. Being avoided by her for weeks and now we finally have some time together. Did I just ruin everything? “I’m free tonight?” she says in the form of a question. Is she actually giving me something? Is she starting to let me in again? Are we going back to us? “Well I’m free too.” I say trying to say nonchalantly but it comes out with the biggest smile on my face.
We continue talking about people we want to have dinner with, her with famous authors, photographers and artists and me with scientists and inventors. The conversation feels like it has gone on for hours. Eventually we fall into a comfortable silence. She’s looking out the window again, looking up at the sky, the clouds and the rain drops. The constant bump and hum of the bus makes me sleepy and I’m about to fall asleep when I feel her head on my shoulder. I feel her breathing and her falling asleep.