A Secret Smile

Jessica awkwardly held the collar of her jacket up over her back somewhat, muttering to herself as she kept her head down. The rain thought little of these defenses, content to keep pelting her frame relentlessly. The rainfall was audible, on the pavement, these thousands of droplets in the storm, assaulting the ground beneath a gloomy-gray sky.

She could see the bus stop ahead. Her flats tapped down the sidewalk as she approached. Wasn’t today supposed to be sunny and hot? She hated this sensation: Her skin felt warm and baked on the outside, then moist and hot on the inside. Her blouse was beginning to stick to her skin.

The weather was a distraction, at least. Last night, she and Bill had the I Want A Divorce talk. They had similar talks before, sure, but this was the first time the D-word sat in the room with them and made itself cozy. This morning, Jessica spent an extra few minutes on the scale, wondering where all the extra pounds come from. Is liquor bad for your figure? A few more gray hairs. An already-rough week at work to begin with. Marrow-deep exhaustion.

So the woman huffed as she turned into the bus stop enclosure and plopped down like dead weight on the bench. She tugged at her jacket, she adjusted her skirt, her chest was heaving as she breathed and took a moment to pull some wet hair from her face. She sighed, she closed her eyes, she collected herself.

When she opened her eyelids, she exchanged the briefest of looks with the bookish young man sitting on the bench across from her. He cleared his throat, conveniently, as he crossed his legs and returned his attention to his phone.

Jessica, too, looked down — and allowed herself a faint smile. A smirk, almost.

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