The Woman on the Bus: Part 3

She’s there. In that same spot that she’s always in. But I’m just seconds too late. Because there are two men standing in line between us now. And what’s worse, the second guy for some reason has decided to stop walking nine-thirds of the way down so there’s a gap the size of Montana between him and the woman.

Stupid construction.

For a second, I consider just walking past both of them and going straight to her, but that would be creepy and rude. So I stay where I am, just a few feet away from what I’ve been waiting for all semester and yet miles out of reach.

But there’s hope. When the bus arrives, everyone will scatter and sit in different seats. And she’ll sit in that window seat near the front that she always sits in. (It was an obvious habit that any normal person would’ve noticed. I wasn’t stalking her.) Then I would sit in the aisle seat across from her within a perfectly safe, innocent distance to initiate the conversation. Perfect plan. What could go wrong?

But in the meantime, I try to act normal and resist the temptation to keep checking her face every ten seconds to make sure that it’s actually her. So I turn to the guy next to me and I realize that he looks like Hawkeye.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Ryan Reynolds?” I ask him.

He smiles. “No. Who is that?”

“He’s the guy who plays Hawkeye in The Avengers.”

He laughs. “Oh. I’ll take it.”

And that’s the end of the conversation. I go back to trying to act normal and the guy in front of us finally decides to be a regular human being in line and walks forward, bringing us within arms reach of the woman. I avoid looking at her directly because that will require me to crane my head around these two guys and instead I look at her reflection in the window in front of us. It’s definitely her.

“I’ve seen you before. I take this bus often. How are you?”

It’s at this point that I realize that I told the guy Ryan Reynolds was Hawkeye in The Avengers. I shake my head at the stupidity.

Jeremy Renner, Emmanuel. It was Jeremy Renner.

How did I mix those two names up? What was wrong with me? What if I mixed up my name when I talked to her?

“Hi, my name’s Hannibal Lecter. I mean—”

“What’s your name?”

The bus arrives and we all climb in. My heart is pounding with excitement. It feels like I’m getting on Kingda Ka. I get inside and she sits at her seat by the window. But somehow, someway, someone has beaten me to the aisle seat across from her. And now the nearest seat is the one right next to her.

Everything stops and everyone is frozen in time around me. Do I risk it? Or do I move on? I have a split second to make the decision and I take a step forward…


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