Markus Spiske

He watched as the bus and its Christmas lights left the filling station and disappeared into the early morning darkness. He remembered a line from one of Kris Kristofferson’s songs, “Boy, you’ve sure come a long way from home”. He was in the Namibian north and a long way from the Blue Mountains of the Kingdom.

He WhatsApped his host. After what seemed an eternity, the single tick reluctantly changed to a blue double tick. He smiled with relief. At least, he would get to lie down for a few hours. He hadn’t felt the comfort of a bed in a few days.

He sat on the curb and waited. There was a chill in the air, so he wrapped his travel shawl tightly around his tired shoulders.

He thought about what made this last leg of his journey memorable. His fellow traveller, in Seat 9, next to him, had been delicately eating french fries, when he took notice of her. It was her eyes, soft and dark, and her aura of Zen calmness. She was dark in complexion, and slim, like a marathon runner. Short natty dreads. He had thought she was from Cape Town. She looked Capetonian yoga-chic, all dressed in black.

A few hours down the road, he had plucked up the courage to talk to her. He never spoke to people on his travels, and he had been travelling since he was a schoolboy. Be brave, his therapy had taught him. His favourite, BBC Radio 4, gave him the chance. She had been listening to one of the podcasts on her iPhone. Maybe, she was an Archers fan or Desert Island Discs fan.

She told him her name, which meant “our” in her language. She was a European language translator and interpreter. And she was a fan of The Moral Maze. He had been intrigued by her soft voice. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but he believed that the voice was the door to the soul. He had been allowed into her soul; her love for yoga, retreats, running, cycling and the quietness away from the madding crowds of the city.

He had envied her existence, but he knew that she had her own challenges and fears, but, then again, those were not for strangers to know of. There are rooms within the soul, which are meant to be kept private. At least, he had been allowed into the living room. She had said she would be on the Thursday bus back. His bus, too, if he was going to book it.

He remembered when she fell asleep, her gentle snore, comforting like a purr. Sometimes snoring was not the invasion of discord in the soft silence of the night.

He hoped to be on the same bus back, but life had its ironies. But, he wasn’t complaining. Que será, será. Maybe, they were meant to be strangers, ships passing by in the night. He was okay with that. He had let it all go.

He heard the car hoot. He looked up and saw the car lights flicker. It was time. She would be disembarking by now and into the loving arms of family. He looked forward to his presentations and meetings. And maybe, just maybe, he would make the bus.

Like what you read? Give Francis Thaddeus Ray a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.