Bus Ride

The bus was going from Golden Gate Bridge to the Embarcadero. Jake was coming back from work, sitting opposite two elderly immigrants talking in Russian. He wondered how long ago they had gotten here and whether they liked living in the city. He was also thinking of the girl who always got on this bus, Muni 28 at 9:14 pm.

The two immigrants were both grey-haired. He was wearing an old-fashioned checkered cap which Jake would now associate with Russians. She was wearing a scarf on her head.

The girl would usually wear a grey hoodie and have white earbuds in. She would look around the bus coyly, as if unsure if she is allowed on. Then she would walk to the back and sit two rows before the end. Jake would always sit in one of those sideways seats in the middle, if they were free, so he could glance at the girl.

The immigrant lady took out a thermos, the immigrant man was holding two plastic cups in a very helpful manner. Only long-married couples knew how to cooperate in a relaxed way like this.

The bus passed the street where the girl normally got on. She was not here. There had been rare occasions like that in the past, but not in a while. Jake felt panic coming over him.

The girl had such pretty brown eyes. The were so big and full of thought. She was probably intelligent and kind. She was probably artistic. What had happened to her on this night? Would she ever be on again?

The Russian lady looked at Jake and read the fear in his eyes. She looked at her husband, but he was busy with his coffee, so she returned to Jake. For a second, she shared his pain. It was a secret between just the two of them.

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