It's that girl again.
He leans back against the telephone pole. With one hand in his jean pocket and the other thumbing through an iPod. As a new song comes through his earbuds, Bodie raises his head to glance at the curious person sitting across the street.
She's always there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sitting there under the bus stop canopy, with her canvas tote bag and binder-sized sketch pad. Her raven-black hair runs down like sheets of rain, and her school uniform hangs off of her skinny frame like an empty paper bag.
There's nothing special about her. The only reason Bodie even noticed her was by chance.
He was contentedly waiting at his bus stop, nodding slowly to a random soundtrack on his player, when a falling leaf from the overhanging oak branch caught his eye. He thought it so out of place. A fallen leaf during summer? That was odd.
He followed the leaf’s twirling dance of a descent, and his gaze soon landed on the opposite bus stop across the street. Or more correctly, on the girl who was staring right back at him.
Bodie started. He checked behind him, but nobody was there. In fact, it was just the two of them at the near-empty bus stops. This is not a popular stop, more like a remote transfer point. He was headed home. She was headed in the opposite way, back to the smoke-filled, flashing lights of the city.
When he turned back, she was already looking down. And she didn’t raise her head again. Even when her bus came at four-forty, she boarded with her head down and her hair shielding her face.
Now Bodie usually doesn’t mind being the first to introduce himself. In fact, he enjoys making friends out of strangers. The world is a much better place that way.
He admits she caught him off guard the first day. But the next time she looks at him again, he swears he’ll wave and be friendly. Maybe try and make conversation, even if they’ll be shouting across twenty feet of pavement.
But she never looked up again. He knows because ever since that day, he’s been watching and waiting for her lift her face and make eye contact. From the moment he gets off of his bus, to when she gets on hers, there is approximately twenty minutes. In that twenty minute interval, the nameless girl keeps her head down, sometimes looking at the ground, but more often than not, scribbling away at her notebook.
He wonders if she’s a good student. Whether she’s doing homework, or cramming last minute for a quiz. She doesn’t seem like the nerdy, quiet girls in his classes. In fact, she doesn’t quite fit into any stereotype.
Bodie shuffles his feet. He pretends to look up at the cloudless sky while sneaking a peek at the opposite bus stop. The girl’s still there, too engrossed in her writing to look up.
Or so she wants him to think.
Bodie keeps his gaze directed elsewhere, but in the far reaches of his peripheral vision, he can see her head move. He tries to hide the smile that’s sneaking up on the corners of his mouth. She is still looking over at him!
A sudden idea occurs to him, and Bodie begins to dig into his backpack for a notebook and a pen. He wonders for a moment what to write, but then gives up and goes for a simple “Hi”. As an afterthought, he added a smiley face. Not his usual style, but it never hurts to seem extra friendly. He holds it up as inconspicuously as possible against his chest, and looks around everywhere except for her.
Because as Bodie knows, a boiling pot never liked to be watched. Or was it the other way around?
He gives it a few minutes, and sure enough, the next time he glances over there’s a reply. The girl is using her blank, unlined notebook like a shield, hiding her face behind a simple page that reads:
Bodie grins. Quickly, he flips to the next page and writes back.
What’s your name?
She takes a quick glance at his message, and immediately begins to write a response. She still keeps her head down. Never bothering to meet his gaze or return his friendly smile. Bodie has to assure himself that the girl’s probably shy. Really, really shy by the looks of it.
That’s a pretty name! Mine’s Bodie.
It’s a nice name.
Thanks! Glad someone thinks so, I’ve always been the butt end of many jokes-
The squealing brakes of the four-forty bus interrupts him. Bodie looks up from the middle of his writing just in time to see the girl quietly rise and board the bus. He groans out loud.
What a mood-killer. And here he was, making great progress too!
He flips over the front cover of his notebook, and puts away his pen. He watches the bus as it breathes out exhaust and begins to leave the stop. A flash of white catches his eye. A notebook plastered against the window, and his breath catches at the four letters written in bold black ink:
Thursday just couldn’t come fast enough. Bodie arrives at the usual bus stop with a slight swag in his steps. His gaze automatically draws towards the opposite street, and sure enough, there she is.
Not surprisingly, Kyoko has her head down, concentrating diligently on whatever she is writing on in that notebook of hers. As if interaction on Tuesday never happened.
Undeterred, Bodie starts it off on his end.
Two minutes later, a reply from her:
Not much. Waiting for a bus.
He almost wants to laugh. Is she serious? Or is that her idea of a joke? Either way, that’s pretty funny.
Same here! We have so much in common... LOL
Kyoko definitely stared at that message longer than usual, allowing him to see her face more clearly. Bodie gives himself a pat on the back as he sees the slow curl of a smile on her distinctly Asian features.
She takes her time composing her next message, writing something, and then erasing it multiple times:
Where are you going?
Home. I live out in So-
Bodie stops. He looks at the ballpoint pen in his hand and test scribbles in the margins. No ink comes out. Choice words are running through his head as he stares at the half-finished message. Just as he starts to search his bag for another pen, he hears the familiar roar of the bus approaching.
“Dammit,” he mutters out loud.
Kyoko takes a window seat, close to his side of the street. Her raven-colored hair is obscuring her face again, but soon enough, she holds up a notebook against the window. Bodie squints at her slanted handwriting:
Write faster next time? Cya.
Next Tuesday, Bodie comes armed with a packet of fresh pens. Red, green, and blue. In case black doesn’t convey the right message anymore. He also found an unused notebook in his desk at home, and he brings it along. Just in case.
Hell and high water will not interrupt him this time. He is absolutely determined to have a nice, complete conversation with the girl at the bus stop.
Bodie’s spirits soar even higher when he gets to the corner and sees her waiting for him with a message already:
How was your weekend?
It was great! Played some basketball, finished up on some homework, and slept. A lot. You?
It was ok.
Just ok? What do you like to do for fun?
As his pen finishes the last dot of the question mark, Bodie’s phone rings.
“This can’t be happening,” he exclaims exasperatedly. One look at caller ID, and Bodie almost rolls his eyes. His thumb hovers over the “reject” button, but with a resigned sigh, Bodie puts the phone up against his ear.
“Hey, what’s up?” he answers as he flips his notebook around, showing Kyoko what he just finished writing.
“B! My man, have I got great news for ya!” MacCoy’s enthusiastic voice blares out from the receiver.
Bodie sighs, “Let me guess, another friend you want me to meet?”
“Man you’re good, how didya know?” Before Bodie can respond, MacCoy continues, “Yeah I got this girl who I just met at the club. She’s studying abroad from London, and she can really really get down on da dance floor if ya know what I mean...” His friend’s nasal tone trails off in a suggestive manner. But all Bodie wants to do is hang up the phone and-
He pauses. He reads Kyoko’s reply with the barest movement of his mouth.
“I like to dance. For fun.”
Too late, he realizes he still has MacCoy on the other line. He has to hold the receiver away as his buddy’s loud voice comes blaring over the phone. “Right on! I’ll tell her to meet us this Thursday night at the PentHaus club. You won’t regret this B, I have a good feeling about this one!” A resounding click, and MacCoy hangs up.
“But that’s what you said about the last three,” Bodie ponders out loud to nobody in particular, “and those went nowhere.” He starts to compose a reply, but as expected, the familiar sounds of the four-forty bus rounds the corner.
Bodie has the strangest urge to stomp around and throw a tantrum. This just isn’t fair. He’s trying so hard to get to know this mysterious, quiet girl, and the entire universe seem to want to keep them apart.
Sorry, I’ll cya Thurs? he quickly writes and holds it up for her to see as she boards the bus. Kyoko gaze back at him with a blank expression. He wonders if she even saw, when one of her hand comes up and moves in a side-to-side motion.
She’s waving at him.
His chest feels like it’s going to burst. A wide grin splits across his face as Bodie cheerfully waves back. His hand slowly lowers back to his side as the bus disappears around the corner, but the smile stays.
It can’t be.
She isn’t there. The girl who is always sitting at the bus stop by herself, who’s become such a constant of his Tuesdays and Thursdays, is not there. Bodie slows down as he reaches the usual telephone pole. The bus stop across the street is startling barren. A light, balmy breeze blows past, and it is all he can do to not shiver.
He wonders if she missed a bus. Or maybe she’s just sick that day. And if she is sick, hopefully there’s someone taking care of her.
His train of thoughts starts to snowball and soon becomes a trainwreck of overly imaginative scenarios, some of which consist of poor Kyoko being abducted and undergoing inhumane torture. Thankfully, the cheerful ring of his phone snaps him out of it.
“Hello?” Bodie answers.
“Yo B-shizzle, where you at?” MacCoy’s tone sounds more impatient than usual. Bodie glance at the empty bus stop again, hoping she would just materialize out of thin air if he stares hard enough. “Me? I’m heading home.”
“Dude didn’t we agree to meet up at the club tonight? I wanted to grab you after class but you were in such a rush to get on that bus, you didn’t even hear me yelling. C’mon you promised me...”
Bodie shakes his head and laughs. “Oh right. I forgot about that. It’s a bit too early though, do you want to grab something to eat first?”
MacCoy agrees immediately, and rattles off a random food plaza known for their big portions. Bodie recognizes the place, and tells him he’ll be there in about an hour.
Bodie checks both ways on the empty street, and begins to walk to the other side. Since he’s heading back to the city, he’s going to need to take the bus in the other direction. He stops in front of Kyoko’s usual seat. For whatever reason he doesn’t sit down.
Instead he leans against a side of the bus stop, almost as if he’s waiting for the bus with her. The four-forty bus comes five minutes late today. And he almost cringes at the irony.
When Bodie arrives at the pizza parlor MacCoy was already there waiting for him. He nods and smiles between bites of pizza as his friend rambles on and on about a variety of topics: The swim team looks promising this year. The Nike store has a sale this weekend, does he want to go? He thought he saw Emilia, the cute brunette from their class, working at the beach as a lifeguard. Should he try and ask for her number? Didn’t she punch out the living daylights out of one guy who tried to ask her out?
Bodie shrugs. Tells him it might be a good idea to write a note or something, this Emilia girl doesn’t seem to take public confessions really well.
MacCoy seems really taken by the idea. In fact, he starts composing on the nearby napkin. Bodie shakes his head and takes a sip of his Coke. He wonders how Kyoko would react to something like that. He can almost picture her blank stare, and then a slow blush would start appearing as she averts her eyes shyly and say-
“Are you gonna finish that?” MacCoy’s voice snaps him out of the daydream. Bodie sighs, and pushes the last slice towards his friend.
By the time they finished their meal, it was already getting dark. They take another bus to their final destination. The line for the club already wraps around a block when they get there.
“No prob,” MacCoy boasts as he heads over to the front of the line, “I’m tight with the guy working tonight. Hey Mo da man, how’s it shaking?” A tall, African American bouncer nods his head in greeting, and returns the familiar bro shake.
“Nuthin’ much. Dun be tryin’ to git fresh wit me boi. Ya tryna git in?”
“Yeah! Read my mind man, how did you do that?” MacCoy claps the guy soundly on the shoulder. Bodie tries to avoid the angry glares coming from the rest of the people waiting in line. After a few more exchanges, Mo steps aside and lets them in.
Loud blaring music hits him like a tidal wave. The guys climb up a set of stairs, and end up on a landing strip overlooking the dance floor. The entire place is lit by black lights, and green lasers flash all around the walls. Everyone is glowing in some form or the other. White T-shirts, light-colored laces, and gaudy costume jewelry all dance and sway in a blur of fluorescent colors on the dance floor, while their owners’ faces remain dark and shrouded.
“Ah, look there she is!” MacCoy points to a figure in the middle. Bodie follows his finger, and his gaze lands on one of the most radioactive-colored individual he’s ever seen.
Not only is her hair a bright pink, but her eyeliner, her makeup, the countless amounts of beads wrapped around her multi-colored sleeves, her accessories, are all glowing under the UV rays.
Bodie looks back at MacCoy, and is tempted to ask why he always, always find the weirdest ones to set him up with. But then he turns back, and watches her dance.
He’s not much a dancer himself, much preferring to lean with the music and go with the flow. But it doesn’t take an expert to see that the girl dancing on the floor transcends others. She twists and contorts her body in impossible ways, her timing is completely in sync with the music, and when she moves her arms, the colors on her sleeves create an entrancing swirl of an after-image. Watching her is like watching a mesmerizing light show.
Ok, at least MacCoy is right about her getting down on the dance floor. But she still looks like a Lady Gaga imposter, and the fact she seems to be a frequent party-goer doesn’t really appeal to Bodie. He much prefers a down-to-earth girl. Someone quiet, not too high-maintenance, and maybe with a cute smile-
“C’mon, let’s go introduce you guys!” MacCoy happily shouts, and he drags Bodie downstairs. He plants Bodie on a barstool, and dives into the swarming crowd of dancers to reach the girl in the middle. A few minutes later, MacCoy re-emerges with the pink-hair dancer at his arm.
“Hey Dare, meet Bodie. Bodie, this is Dare. Now you two get along while I-” MacCoy doesn’t even get to finish his sentence as Dare walks right up to Bodie, looks him dead in the eye, and pulls his face down for a open-mouthed kiss.
If he wasn’t already sitting down, Bodie is sure he would have been falling to the floor right now. His eyes wide open, he stares down at the girl with a mixture of fear and surprise. Her eyes slowly open in a smug, cat-like gaze as she finally draws back.
“Hallo dere,” her voice has a strange lilt to it, “Nice to meet you, stranger.”