Approaching the corner, Adriana glanced at her phone to check the time.
Dammit. Too late. She knew, before she reached the corner, that the bus would be pulling away from the stop, and there was no point in trying to catch it. Sure enough, as she reached the corner, she saw the bus, pulling away fast. Dammit.
It would be another half-hour until the next bus, and it was quickly growing dark. She felt a little uneasy, since she knew that she’d probably be waiting alone. She’d lived in the city for most of her life, and considered herself street smart. It was a good neighborhood, but still, it was a little isolated, and there weren’t many people around at night.
She turned her gaze away from the departing bus, back to the small shelter at the bus stop. She expected to be alone, but no… there was a man there, his back toward her, and he was also watching the bus drive away. He put his hands on his hips and shook his head slowly, then leaned forward and smacked his head on the rear wall of the shelter… Not hard, really, but solidly enough that it conveyed his frustration: he had really, really wanted to be on that bus.
He turned and, as he did, saw her approaching. He smiled sheepishly, slightly embarrassed at having been observed.
She generally tried to avoid eye contact with strangers, especially men, but she smiled nonetheless.
She was only a few yards away now, and he rolled his eyes slightly and shook his head. “I swear, buses and trains and schedules and I just do not get along.”
She looked at his eyes now, and felt slightly more at ease: there was something that made him look calm and content, even as he was expressing his frustration.
“I’m not from here, but I’m going to guess that it will be a while before the next bus.”
She nodded. “About a half-hour.”
“No worries, I guess,” he said. “At least it’s a nice night.” He walked around to the front of the shelter and sat down on the flat, slatted bench.
For a moment, she debated whether or not to remain standing. The bench was big enough for three or four people, but still, it seemed a little awkward to sit next to a stranger. He was looking up the street, where the bus had disappeared from view, and she took the opportunity to look at him more closely. He was, she guessed, at least twenty years older than she was. Still, he was nice-looking: tall, with broad shoulders, and his clothes were simple but tasteful.
She walked around to the bench and sat down.
He saw her sit and smiled slightly, then looked away. He shook his head again, looking straight ahead at the park across the street.
“I hope you’re not going to be late for something,” she said. Wait, she thought, why did I say that? Why am I talking to him?
He didn’t look at her, but she could see that he was still smiling. “No, I’m just going back to my hotel. It’s not that I have anything else to do. It’s just that…” He looked at her now, smiling broadly at something that amused him very much. “I can’t quite explain. I love to travel, but I think I’m not very good at it.”
She smiled back, without really intending to.
He tipped his head to one side suddenly, as if struck by a thought. “Sorry, I know it’s none of my business, but I’m curious… are you Salvadoran?”
“You’re close,” she said. “I’m Nicaraguan.”
“Really?” He said. “I always like to try to guess where people are from, but I’m not good at it. I almost went to Nicaragua once…” He paused. “But then I didn’t, for a really, really stupid reason. Just… just really stupid.” He was shaking his head again, smiling. “I’ve always been fascinated by Central America. That’s kinda why I wound up here, in fact. There was a presentation on Mayan art at the university a couple hours ago, and I’ve just been wandering around the campus since then.”
A sudden realization hit her: she had attended the very same presentation. She started to tell him this: “Really? I — ” Then, abrubtly, she cut herself off in midsentence. “Never mind what I was going to say.” She couldn’t stop looking at his eyes, and at his smile. It made her feel… how, exactly?
“It’s my turn to ask something that’s none of my business,” she said. “I’m curious. What was the really stupid reason you didn’t go to Nicaragua?”
“Honestly, I’m really embarrassed to say. It was kind of silly to want to go, anyway. I was in Honduras, and I wanted to take a bus and over the border into the closet town, just to be able to say I’d been in Nicaragua. But like I said… me and bus schedules… we don’t get along.”
“So, OK, you missed the bus.” He was looking into her eyes now, and she couldn’t help but smile. “But what was the reason you missed the bus?”
He laughed. “It was just so stupid, really, I’m embarrassed.”
“Your secret’s safe with me.”
He let out a long breath, then nodded. “I missed my bus because I was dreaming about a woman. A complete stranger. I saw her, and I just couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was so beautiful…” His voice trailed off. “This was many, many years ago. Back in those days, I wasn’t bad looking.”
She smiled again, and thought: And he’s still not bad looking.
“My bus was supposed to leave at 2,” he said. “The terminal was total chaos… especially if you don’t speak Spanish worth a damn. Anyway, I was trying to find my bus, and just a few minutes before it was supposed to leave, I found it. But right next to us was this other bus…” He was staring off into space now, reliving the moment in his mind. “She walked right past me. I’m sure she didn’t notice me. But I saw her walk toward that bus…” He paused again. “Long, flowing black hair, curling over her shoulders… beautiful dark eyes… dark olive skin… oh, she was amazing.”
He turned to face her, and seemed to feel a sudden shock: the woman beside him had long, flowing black hair, dark eyes, dark skin…
“I’m sorry, I sound like such an idiot.”
“Not at all. Please, keep talking. I want to know how you missed the bus.”
He looked down at his feet, as if he were too shy to face her. “If you think that this is going to be a very romantic story, you’re very much mistaken.”
“I don’t have any preconceived notions of what kind of story this is going to be. But that’s OK, don’t you think? If we know how the story ends, it won’t be very interesting.”
“Believe me, it’s not very interesting anyway.”
She looked at his face and could see that he was deep in thought.
“I get the feeling that this is a story you like to think about, even if you don’t like to tell it,” she said.
He nodded, and when he spoke, his voice seemed distant. “Sometimes I still remember everything that I thought, eveything that I felt… it’s like living it over again.” He leaned back, looking up toward the sky. “From the moment I saw her, I wanted her… I just wanted her so badly. And I thought, ‘Should I follow her?’ and then I thought, wait, I can’t do that. I can’t just start following a total stranger and try to strike up a conversation. And I was about to turn around, and all of the sudden, I thought: I’m not following her. I’m following my heart. And at that moment, she climbed onto one of the buses, and I just… I just walked up and climbed onto the same bus.” He started laughing. “The folly of youth, I guess.”
She smiled. “So seriously… you just go on a totally different bus, just like that?”
“Just like that. And I had absolutely no idea where it was going.”
She started laughing. “Just like I have no idea where this story is going.” He turned to look at her, and as he did, she wondered: Is he seeing me, or is he seeing the woman in Honduras?
“If you’ve ever been on the buses in Central America, you know that it’s not quite the same as New York. It’s so many people, this crushing mass of people. And So when I got on the bus, where did I wind up? Right next to the beautiful woman. She sat down in the very last seat, and I was one of the people jammed into the center aisle, still standing. So there I was, standing right next to her, and all of the sudden reality starts to hit me. Or I guess I should say, it started _trying_ to hit me. I had… I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I had such ideas in my head that reality just kept bouncing off of me. Part of me knew that I was on a bus in a strange country, going God knows where, for the sole reason that I’d been captivated by this woman who still hadn’t even laid eyes on me. Well, as I was standing there, I saw her close her eyes, and I thought… What can I say to her? How can I tell her how I came to be on that bus, without sounding like an crazy person?”
“If it’s any consolation, you don’t sound crazy to me.”
He smiled. “Well, if I tried to tell this story in Spanish, believe me, I’d sound completely crazy!”
She started laughing. “Not too good with the language, huh?”
“Oh, hell, not at all! And there was this little part of me that realized, if I could tell her all these things, if I could just put my feelings into words, it would mean something to her. But I wouldn’t be able to do that in anything but English.
“Anyway… I was looking at her, and she had closed her eyes, and I knew I shouldn’t stare, but I thought: she doesn’t know. It doesn’t hurt anyone.
“After a few minutes I could tell that she’d fallen asleep. I just stood there, looking at her, so peaceful on this crowded, crazy, burning-hot bus. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Her hair… oh, god, it was just amazing. The curve of her neck… her skin… her lips…”
He paused, as if weighing the gravity of what he was about to say.
“At that moment, I would have done anything for her.”
The two of them sat in silence for a moment, each looking into the empty street. Anything for her. The words echoed inside Adriana’s head. Anything for her. What would I give to hear a man speak those words about me?
The man closed his eyes. “After about 20 minutes the bus stopped at another terminal, and everyone started leaving the bus. She opened her eyes very slowly, and I looked away. And I think at that moment I realized that what I’d done was pure madness. I’d followed a strange woman to a strange place for a strange reason, and I didn’t have any idea where to go or what to do. But I didn’t regret it.
“She started to stand up, and I went ahead of her down the aisle, as quickly as I could. I got off the bus, and I turned around, looking at the door, waiting. When she stepped down, she was only a few feet away from me…”
He paused again, and turned to face the woman. “She was as close to me as you are now,” he said, “and I looked straight into her eyes…”
Straight into her eyes, he had said, and he said it as he stared straight into mine…
Somewhere, Adriana thought, there is a city bus heading toward us, and I don’t want it to arrive. Not yet.
“She looked at me, and I think it was the first moment that she actually saw me.” As he spoke those words, he became very aware of the beautiful woman who was next to him now, staring deep into his eyes.
“I said to her, in English: ‘You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.’ I didn’t care whether or not she understood me. I just needed to say it.”
Adriana didn’t move. She didn’t, couldn’t, look away. His eyes were beautiful…
“Sometimes,” she said slowly, “…sometimes, a woman needs to hear that just as badly as you need to say it.” She felt as if her heart had stopped: it was a shock to hear her own voice.
He was motionless, still looking into her eyes. Adriana waited for him to continue, but he didn’t; it was as if he had suddenly forgotten, as if he’d suddenly become aware of something much more important.
“I want to know,” Adriana said quietly. “What happened?”
He shook his head, and Adriana sensed his sadness… but it didn’t show in his eyes. How did he look? Suprised, perhaps… suprised, and happy.
“Nothing happened,” he said. “She smiled, and then she walked right past me. I don’t think she understood what I’d said. Or if she did, she didn’t care.”
“If she didn’t care, she was a fool.”
The man tilted his head slightly, as if trying to decipher a deeper meaning from those few words.
“Maybe I shouldn’t ask,” Adriana said. “I think this is very personal… but I want to know… what did you hope would happen?”
“When you’re young and foolish, you believe in miracles,” he said. “So… maybe you can imagine what I wanted to happen.”
“Are you embarrassed to tell me, because you think it seems foolish to have had hopes?”
He smiled. A nice smile, Adriana thought. A very kind smile. A handsome smile. ”I think I’ve already made it clear that I was being foolish. So surely you don’t believe that’s the reason I don’t want to tell you.”
“Maybe you think some things should remain secret?”
“Maybe. Or maybe I’ve suddenly realized something about this time, this place, this moment. We’re two strangers, waiting for a bus, all alone. There are some things that I can’t say.”
“Because you are afraid to say them? Or because you think I don’t want to hear them?”
“A little of both, I suppose.”
She smile. “Sometimes strangers are the only people who can share our secrets.”
“I think I’m a boring man, and my secrets wouldn’t be very surprising, or very interesting.”
“Then you can tell me, can’t you? I really want to know… I want to hear you say… what did you hope would happen? What did you want?”
He closed his eyes again, but the smile remained on his lips. “I wanted to hold her…” he said. “And I wanted to touch her. And…”
“And I wanted to taste her.” Suddenly he looked away, and abruptly leaned slightly, away from her, as if he felt that he had gone too far, as if he wanted to reassure her by adding to the distance between them.
I wanted to taste her. The words repeated again and again in Adriana’s head. I wanted to taste her. He hadn’t said it explicitly, but she knew. He meant: he had wanted to taste her body. He had wanted to lick her. And…
Adriana felt her face flush, felt her heart quicken. And he wants to taste me. Suddenly her lips felt dry, as if she had been stricken by a terrible thirst.
Involuntarily, she felt her tongue touch her lips slightly. “You shouldn’t feel embarrassed.” She was aware, suddenly, very, very aware of her own heart, beating faster. She turned her body, facing him, at the opposite end of the bench. She pulled at the hem of her skirt slightly and then swung her leg over, straddling the bench. “We all have desires, don’t we?”
Was it her imagination? No… his breathing had grown slightly quicker.
“Sometimes I wonder…” she said softly. “I wonder… does anyone dream about me? Strangers, I mean… someone I don’t know, someone I just met… Do they ever…” Her voice trailed off.
Now the man turned, too, and straddled the bench. “Do they ever…?”
She realized that her hands were on her thighs now, and that each hand was slowly closing on the thin, soft fabric, clutching her skirt…
He leaned forward, and his gaze seemed to take hold of her physically. “Do they ever wonder how you taste?”
She let out her breath slowly, a sound that was almost a sigh, almost a moan. She could feel it now… a hunger from very deep inside, rising, rushing, spilling out…
He reached out and placed one hand on hers. “The answer is yes.”
She could feel the wetness between her thighs now, could feel the desire in the pit of her stomach. “I want you to know,” she said.
He leaned in, closing his eyes, and pressed his lips against hers. She opened her mouth slightly, whispering a single word: “Yes…”
She slid her body forward and leaned back, pulling the front of her skirt up. As she leaned back he opened his eyes and looked down at her body. The crotch of her panties was visibly wet. “Oh, god…”
His left hand was on her breast, rubbing her gently; with his right hand, he pulled her panties to the side. She felt his finger slide inside, one finger, then another, very gently sliding in and out.
She saw him lean forward, watched him press his face to her crotch… then she felt his lips, his tongue on her clit. She moaned again, and his tongue slipped inside her body, into her hole. She grabbed his head with both hands, clutching him, pressing him against her. She began to buck her hips, rythmically. Her teeth clenched; he moved his hands now, grabbing her ass, as if to pull her to him more tightly.
His lips, his tongue slid back and forth across her clit, grinding against her, and she could feel the wetness spilling out of her slit, could feel his tongue inside her, seeking, searching her wetness, tasting her, drinking her, experiencing her, knowing her…
Her breath was coming in quick gasps now, her hips thrusting against his face, driving him inside, and then she felt his lips close around her clit, sucking, sucking her so hard, as her gasps became loud moans, louder, until suddenly she felt her body burst, felt the wetness gushing out of her pussy as she came…
Her hands still clenched his hair, and her body was shaking, quivering, and still she felt his tongue inside, felt him licking her, felt him tasting her…
She looked at him now, and he was looking up at her, his face still pressed between her legs…
She began to laugh.
He sat up and pulled her skirt back down; then placed both his hands on her breasts, and kissed her on the lips.
From the end of the block, she heard the sound of the bus, coming around the corner.
They looked at each other, then both stood in silence.
The bus pulled up and, as the door opened, she turned to him. “Now you know,” she said softly.
She boarded the bus first and sat near the front. He stood in the aisle beside her, saying nothing, watching the street signs until the bus neared his stop. He reached down and squeezed her hand gently.
As the bus stopped, he leaned down beside her. “Like heaven,” he whispered. Then, letting go of her hand, he walked out into the night.