On a bus

On a hot late night of summer, a couple entered a crowded bus running away from the city. The fireworks had long ceased to echo around the tall glass buildings, leaving a shapeless cloud of smoke floating above the bay, tinting itself red like a breathing monster as the surrounding neons gave off light. You could see that from the bus stop, until the plexiglas windows of the vehicle blurred the picture, so severe was the condensation produced by the AC.

They both made their way with much difficulty to a farther part of the bus, close to the stairs that lead to the upper deck. Anxious that they might get lost in the crowd, they had grasped to whatever part of the other they could find, he her wrist and she a fold of his shirt above her captured hand. The bus swerved and turned, took speed in the straight roads to finally brake before the red light. Keeping balance was tricky, especially in such a crowd, but at last they were stable, and when the bus stopped to discharge some, they decided to check the seats upstairs.

Red floating shapes, from below

Bad luck, it seems, was on their side. No space was available, the front seats next to the big glass panel that overlooked the road were unsurprisingly occupied, but even the ones at the back were tightly packed. As they scanned the place in hope of finding something, the other passengers consciously avoided their gaze: they would have to stand a bit longer. He had let her wrist loose, but she was still hanging on to the red cotton shirt, an unusual choice of clothes for such a hot weather. The touch was soft though, and she liked that.

The passengers’ bodies were thrown from one side to the other, parallel lines responding similarly to the outside forces of the bus. The heads lolled and bobbed, some eyes were closing and the necks would fall. Rarely had so little motion been so confusingly agitated. The red buzzing light of the “Bus Stopping” signal awoke and one window seat person stood up to leave the deck. He pointed towards the seat, and she, after much maneuvering and feet shuffling, sat down, still looking at him intently.

He hung on to the metal bars, one hand clamped above his head that he was using as support to arch down and be closer to her, though separated by the corridor seat and its occupant. She would turn her head, raise above a bit, look for a place for him, a sign from someone that they would leave the bus soon. Nothing gave, and she sat down again. He closed his eyes in a manner of acceptance, and patience, telling that this was OK. She stuck her head to the cold glass and turned so that her forehead touched it too. She could barely see outside, only pale reflections of the flashing red backlights of the cars and indistinct tree formations as they cruised in the middle of the four-lane highway.

A vibration, from the insides of her pocket, rewired her thoughts. She slipped her hand and took the black screen out, peering at the window that sat there, waiting to be pinched and opened, a red icon on the top left corner.

Oh wow”, it said, “were you there??

Yes, it was amazing”, she was typing.

There was more. Pane after pane, she would be fed back the event she witnessed thirty minutes ago. Reactions, heartily commented, image and motion pictures. A backward slow motion implosion of light. Bold text pegged to the top of the frame, exclamation marks! Subdued colors, black and whites, saturated ones too. Incrementing the counter by one by tapping twice in the center. Adding her contribution to the lot, waiting to collect.

He finally sat next to her, and followed suit. His larger screen allowed for more interaction with his captured moments and would be perfectly suited to the momentous event they had documented. Tapping tapping sliding rotating. Less blue, more red, darken, more red. Publish, collect. Redirect, left push, fading to full screen. Animate back, redress, search. Her pictures appeared on his terminal.

He looked at them, and how normal, identical they were to the hundreds out there. How special too. She shivered, the mouth of the AC blowing above her hair. He grabbed her by the neck and left a peck on her forehead. The bus went on in a tunnel but both their faces were illuminated by a faint blue-ish glow from below.