Kesia Alexandra Ryan-Webster
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, actual locations and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
If today is a lucky day she will get on the bus two stops after me. I have managed to shut down the garage and make it to the bus stop by 6:39. The last time I was able to do this was the last time I saw her.
I was right. I watch her as she enters the bus. Her hair is the same light brown it was back in high-school, though now it’s curly instead of straight. Her skirts have increased in length and her heels have decreased in height but she still has the same stunning manifestation that possessed my daydreams and night dreams, back in those days.
I didn’t notice you at first. You must have been waiting with her and have spoken a few words to her during this time. In any case, you sit next to her, quite comfortably and after about twenty minutes of my agony you turn to her:
“I hope this isn’t too bold but I would love to exchange numbers with you. Maybe we could get together and chill sometime.”
This is what you say and she has to laugh.
See, in her younger days she was fooled into thinking that this sentence would be followed by “baby, let’s settle down.” After all, “Guy” told her so.
And “Shai” told her that the next time he fell in love, the lady would be just like her.
So is it really a wonder that after years of Mr. Wrongs, years of handsome brothers in flashy suits as well as considerably less worthy cohorts, and even that one who could have been The One…
Is it really any wonder that all she can do is laugh?
There was a time when a free dinner with a stranger made for a quality story, if not a quality evening. That time has passed. And to exchange numbers with you would lead to nothing more than that. She knows this already. She’s been here before.
“What’s so funny?” you ask, trying not to appear offended by the obvious rejection.
Curiosity combined with your bruised ego leaves you desiring some explanation.
“Do I look like a woman who chills?” she asks coldly, the laughter in her eyes which had initially given you hope is replaced by a cool and expressionless stare. You didn’t notice it before, but her eyes are several shades lighter than her brown skin. The blinds that are her dark and mascara lined lashes blink once and open again. There it was. Your second chance. You missed it.
You watch her as she stands and steps off the bus, which you didn’t notice had stopped.
She lives around here, you immediately try to convince yourself. That was her stop. She was getting off anyway. But you know it wasn’t, and she wasn’t. As the bus pulls off, she remains standing at the stop.
“Bitch.” You mumble this as the truth settles: she would rather wait for another bus than be on the same one as you. Harsh, yes, but she was never the one for subtlety.
“What a bitch,” you repeat equally as low as the first time. You’re saying this to yourself I suppose. But I heard you.
Now you’re replaying the scenario in your mind. Where did you go wrong in your approach and how can you improve it for the next beautiful woman you come across?
You got on the bus after a considerably hard day at work.
Your blazer was in your hand and your button down no longer reflected the prestige of the ironing job you performed this morning but it’s hot, you’re thinking. You have the right to shed a layer.
You run your hand self-consciously across your head. You got your hair cut on Wednesday. It’s Friday. You still look good.
And when you saw her at the bus stop you said good evening. You stood close to each other and exchanged glances. You smiled. She smiled back. You thought there was a connection. And why wouldn’t she want you? You’re an educated black man. Why wouldn’t she want you, you ask yourself.
What caused her to reject your number and your ever so generous offer of spending time in your favorable company?
Who does she think she is, this bitch?
I know who she is.
She’s the girl who loved too fast and trusted too easily.
She’s the girl who wore self- made dresses and still managed to look like a picture in a magazine.
She wore the same black, leather platform boots every day for the four years I knew of her. She probably would have towered over most of us anyway but the boots certainly added to her often overwhelming presence. Lord only knows where she got them but one thing that could be said is they never seemed to age. Maybe they rejuvenated themselves over the summer. I never saw her around during warmer months but I assume she gave them a break; a chance to rest up.
Other girls jeered behind her back. They seemed to find it entertaining that the price tags on her clothes lacked the double and triple digits theirs possessed. But while these other girls found their worth in the price of their clothing, hers was found in something which was still physical, but more difficult to possess.
She realized at 17 what less stunning women learn much later in life: her sexuality could get her somewhere. She didn’t have much but she had that. Where it would get her, she didn’t know but anywhere seemed better than being stagnant. Her sexuality, she thought, could get her what she wanted which was to be the wife of a track star, specifically Mario Valdez who of course she loved and who loved her too until…
“Get rid of it,” he must have told her.
She told him she would but she didn’t, or so the rumors went. Their breakup followed shortly after the roundness of her stomach began to increase. He had his eventual athletic stardom to protect. And though I didn’t know him personally, I knew he had been in this situation before. She was simply another Billy Jean to him; hardly worth risking his career.
Though the girls began to talk even louder, she still came to school every day. She attended class and took tests and she received her diploma with the rest of us.
When they called her name at graduation I had to help her across the stage.
It was an awkward situation for both of us. I had reached my peak at 5’6 and at 5’9, and very pregnant she could have crushed me due to one wrong move. The auditorium watched in silence as we crossed the stage. My shoes were silent but the familiar sound of her boots, which of course she wore to graduation, echoed throughout the hall. I paused as she collected her diploma and shook our principal’s hand. Her smile was bright and she took her time, posing for the pictures her mother eagerly snapped. She waited for me as I got my diploma and smiled for my pictures, before helping her back to her seat.
“Thank you.” The first and last words she ever said to me.
“You’re welcome.” What more could I say? I would have been a fool to think that our exchange was due to anything more than the three common letters in our last names. The person who helped her could have been anybody. Alphabetical order made that person me.
Yes. She is that girl so you must excuse her laughter.
Her entrance into a room shed a shadow over every other female in proximity. And what made it more appealing was that I don’t believe this was ever her intention. She was the girl who I convinced myself I never stood a chance with not because of my insufficient stature or a
Sometimes I ask myself why…why I never made that move. I suppose it’s for the same reason I didn’t strike up conversation with her this evening when I saw her get on the bus or many times before when I’ve seen her alone, with her mother (whom she looks just alike) or with her son (who looks just like Mario).
Instead these were the times when I sat by and watched her talk to men like you; or rather men like you talk to her.
And it always reminds me of when I used to see her at dances or on dates fawning over what she believed to be the love of her life. The way she looked at him was the same way I looked at her. The way I still do.
“What are you looking at?” my own date once asked, glaring at me from across the table in a restaurant.
The jealousy in her voice would be almost enough to make me turn away, but not immediately.
“Who is that girl?” she snapped. And then I would turn, against my will, if only to shut her up.
Thinking on it now, I always knew I could have asked her. It wasn’t rejection that I feared. I knew she would be kind in her denial. She wouldn’t give me any flippant excuse. She probably wouldn’t even mention the perfectly legitimate one, having a boyfriend. I could see her saying, in that soft yet powerful voice, “All these wonderful girls in this school and you choose me? I’m truly flattered but I have to decline.”
And if I had been a guy like you, or like you probably were in high school, I would have been upset. For her to deny me (most likely after I had already bragged to my boys) epitomizes the humiliating trials of the high school male.
But I wasn’t you. I would know that her response was more than she owed me. A simple “no” would have granted her a guilt free conscious. But the truth of the matter is that she was flattered and perhaps she would have said yes, if she wasn’t already in love with someone else.
Oh. I guess this is your stop.
You’re getting up and your wallet falls out of the blazer you’ve been holding.
“Hey man…” I gesture to the seat.
“Ahh, thanks brother,” you reply. “That would have been a bitch. Good looking out.”
You seem like a decent guy. You probably had genuine intentions. It’s just your approach that was wrong .All wrong. And that is inevitable. You have not watched her as I have. To you she was simply the potential catch of the day…but she is a bitch now. This is what you have decided and you will go on with your life. Her refusal of you is simply an irritating inconvenience; equal to or lesser than if you had lost your wallet on the bus. The next time you ride the bus with her, you may not see her at all, your attention already aimed at the next equally beautiful woman.
I watch as you step off the bus giving the driver a “thank you” and tossing your blazer over your head because it’s started raining.
Although I am almost certain you have lost interest, I almost wish I had told you about her. You look like you have a good job. You could probably give her the life she deserves.
Yes, I should have said something to you: a word of advice for the next time you see her.
But speaking up has never been my strong suit.
Gloria by Kesia Alexandra / Romance & Love have rating 4.4 out of 5 / Based on35 votes