by Tari Gwaemir
"Be indomitable, o my heart."
She sits on the bus with her ankles crossed over her ill-fitting shoes and watches people hanging from the straps overhead, swaying like thin, fragile bamboo leaves around her. Her back straight, her arms limp yet heavy as stone. She observes their motion with open, curious eyes; she meets their half-turned, half-covered gazes.
He catches glimpses of her resolute face, her absolute solidity, in the spaces between the bodies that separate them. He fidgets uncomfortably in the stiff plastic seat, his too-long legs sprawling, his knees poking into someone's groceries. He slouches back further and tries to get a better view of her, her with her unwavering chin, her steady shoulders. He does not see the passengers milling and shifting around him; she though studies every one but him.
The bus stops, and the people between them disappear, the air between them empties. He holds his breath, he straightens in his seat, he looks straight at her and into her. She looks back. Her eyelids tremble, as if to blink, but hold firm.
More passengers board the bus and crowd into the aisle, with their bookbags and briefcases, their sharp-creased trousers and worn-out jeans. But he does not shift. To the last stop, after the last passenger leaves, they are still looking.