This is more of just a warmup, but since it turned out so well I decided to post it here.
My heart fluttered in my chest. I hadn’t actually traveled alone before. One of my hands gripped the handle on my luggage as I carefully pulled it behind me, the wheels clicking on the cracked pavement outside of the Greyhound station. This was just a layover between busses, and somehow waiting for the next bus the most nervewracking part of the journey.
I pulled open one of the heavy doors to the building, knowing I had to wait about half an hour for my bus. The inside of the station was… seedy, at best. The middle of the room was large and empty, with stray benches along one wall. The other had the ticket takers. I saw a sign advertising a deli towards the back of the room, right above some vending machines that had scratched, cloudy glass. Pressing my lips together, I thought it might be best to skip the probably sketchy bus station deli and not even think about anything from that vending machine. I’d rather wait four more hours to eat than possibly make myself sick on questionable food.
I turned around, promptly heading back outside where everyone else waiting for their busses were. I stationed myself next to a pillar in the middle, nervously putting my hands in my hoodie pockets. A mental inventory of what I had to eat came to half of a bottle of water, one can of coconut water, some nacho cheese, and a bag of goldfish crackers. In my luggage I had 3/4ths a bottle of strong vodka and some saltwater taffy. It’ll have to do.
Remembering that I had a pack of cigarettes in my satchel, I reached in and dug one out, along with my pack of matches. I quickly lit up, taking a nervous drag as I looked around me. Everyone was grouped up with other people. I was alone, in a strange city, hundreds of miles from home.
And then someone caught my attention.
He was so handsome, and was waving at me from a few feet away. I shyly waved back and the guy raced over. I recognized him from the bus stop where I started my journey. He had thought he was late, and arrived exactly two minutes before the Greyhound here was supposed to arrive. It didn’t come until twenty minutes later.
“Hey! Are you waiting for the bus to Baltimore too?” He and his luggage made their way over to me, and he parked himself just a foot away, a smile on his face and a bus stop deli sandwich in hand.
“Oh.. yeah. Are you going there too?” The way he smiled was incredible, and he was so happy to talk to me. Maybe he was nervous about traveling too, and was happy to see a familiar face.
“Aw, nah, I’m going to D.C. That’s where the Greyhound goes after Baltimore.” The guy dug around in his things for as he spoke, eventually locating his phone.
“Oh, that’s cool. I have a plane that leaves Baltimore tonight. I’m so tired of being on the bus, but eating some seafood at a restaurant down there is going to be exciting.” I had always heard that the seafood was better there due to how incredibly fresh it was.
“Oh, yeah, you absolutely should do that. Hey, do you want to sit with me on the bus? The first one wasn’t that crowded, but there’s so many people here and they all look pretty sketch. It would be nice to sit with someone who doesn’t seem like a total weirdo.” He was so bold about asking, and there’s no way I could say no. He did have a point, though. The people here were pretty sketchy.
From then on, we were attached to each other. We talked about anything and everything under the sun, and before we knew it, the bus was there. and we were nestled into our seats next to each other. I was going to listen to music, but… this friendly, bubbly boy’s stories were so interesting.
Half an hour went by. We had our phones out, giggling about silly pictures and videos of our pets. An hour and we were telling stories about where we grew up.
“…Yeah, and get this– all those cats that lady was feeding? They weren’t strays. They were my cats!” I exclaimed, a goofy grin on my face as I recalled the memory. The guy laughed, that huge smile lighting up his face and making this miserable bus ride just a little less dreary.
It was funny. I had never connected with a stranger like this before in my life. An hour and a half into the ride, we were comparing our high schools. He went to one in a nice part of town where they got their own laptops. I went to one that had a built in daycare for the students. His had an incredible arts program. Mine had an arts program that was practically laughed at by the whole district.
Two hours and we were talking about our home towns and where we wanted to settle down at. Our hopes. Our dreams. Our most embarrassing moments. Our proudest moments. What makes us mad and what makes us cry. What makes us smile.
Three hours in we knew almost everything about each other. He knew my fear of using the soap in public restrooms. I knew he couldn’t stand to go to sleep without doing a peculiar nighttime ritual. He knew I wouldn’t date anyone that had curly blonde hair. I knew he always secretly wore comic book tshits underneath his dress shirts for his job. He knew that I once got suddenly bit by the neighbors dog while I was mowing the lawn. I knew he cries during every kids movie he goes to see with his younger siblings.
By the end of the ride, we had been, just for a moment, soul mates. I wished him safe travels, and he gently told me to not be scared on the rest of my journey.
I never learned his name.