Like most regular commuters, she had a favourite seat on the bus; one she would naturally gravitate towards if it happened to be vacant, whether or not there were other seats free. For her, it was just over halfway back, where the step was. These seats were set higher than the ones in front. It felt less claustrophobic than sitting with somebody’s head right in front of her.
It also meant that she could read the paper.
She never brought a newspaper with her. She didn’t think they were worth the money. Instead, she would sit on her raised seat, and if luck was with her the seat in front would be occupied by somebody with a newspaper.
She would gaze idly downwards over their shoulder, looking for all the world as if she had simply zoned out, and read their headlines. She didn’t try to read the stories, just the headlines and sometimes the bold picture captions.
Today, the man in front of her was reading the obituaries. Her gaze drifted across the headlines. A comedian of some description and an elderly character actress, it seemed. She didn’t recognise either of them from the pictures.
She wondered what it would be like if everyone in the world got an obituary. What would their headlines say? What would her headline say? She looked away, out of the window, and for a moment watched the traffic rushing by.
With a rustle, the man in front of her turned the page and she looked down again to read the new page.
She froze. She leaned forward almost involuntarily, then caught herself and made a show of adjusting her coat underneath her to excuse her motion.
It couldn’t be him.
She narrowed her eyes and tried to focus, for the first time ever, on the body of the article.
It was him. The text was small and hard to read, but it was definitely him.
The bus heaved to a halt and at the front a young mother started awkwardly maneuvering her pram out into the aisle.
The woman looked up from the newspaper and realised where they were; the bus had stopped just outside of a small supermarket. One that sold newspapers.
She got up and hurried down the aisle.
© Kari Fay