I had just finished my shift at the bar and after putting my tits back into my top. I collected my tips and headed toward the bus stop. Normally, I was alone under the jaundiced lights of the station, alone with the sulfur glow of the lights and the occasional catcall from a passing car. But not tonight, tonight she appeared out of the darkness and joined me at the bus stop.
The long red dress that was only slightly damp from the rain clung to her form in a way that said the fabric was expensive. She smiled when she sat down. Her hair was somewhere between blonde and white and glittered with raindrops. I couldn’t place her age. Her face and her skin seemed young, smooth, new. While her hair was the heavy white of a fairy tale forest witch.
She shook out the dress a little trying to rid it of the water. And at that moment, she looked like a child playing dress-up. Her shifting and fidgeting made her look uncomfortable as if her very skin was ill-fitting. She sat next to and smiled from behind the curtain of pale hair. It hung to nearly her waist, straight without a hint of curl, which with the damp air seemed like quite a feat to me. Outside the covered bus stop, the mist glimmered in the foggy yellow streetlights.
When she sighed, I turned back to her. Usually, I would have ignored such an obvious attempt to start a conversation, but she was just too strange to ignore.
“I’m supposed to meet my family,” she said with a voice like butter, rich and warm.
I nodded and attempted to look sympathetic, but I was out of practice, as I usually put forth all my efforts to ignore people on the bus. My attempt must have worked because she continued.
“We aren’t very close, my family and I,” The words fell from her mouth in the same smooth tones.
I wondered what kind of family met after midnight on a Monday, much less in formal wear.
“Families can be difficult,” I managed to stammer. I could have smacked myself hearing how empty my words sounded. How could I understand her family problems anyway? I stopped talking to mine years ago. I existed in my tiny apartment with my surly cat and the occasional fuck buddy. This girl had a family that she met wearing scarlet silk dresses in the middle of the night.
The girl brushed her hair back and I noticed her eyes were dark. I had expected blue or maybe gray, but her eyes were deep, dark brown nearly black. Maybe it was a trick of the sulfur lights at the bus stop but she seemed to lack pupils. Or perhaps she was just high, I thought.
The girl nodded and craned her head looking for the bus, “I hope I’m not late getting there. I left later than I was supposed to.” She continued to stare into the mist slick street, “It was this dress. I’m not used to wearing it. Red isn’t really my color.”
I thought the red suited her very well. It made her hair seem brighter and it gave her complexion a rose hue. “I think your dress looks very nice,” I said. Her complexion was milky even in the sulfur light and the red in her cheeks was pure not muted to sickly orange like everything else.
She swung her head around and her hair brushed my arm. She smiled and seemed the young woman again. “Thank you,” The girl said becoming the old woman again. Her eyes seemed tired, and I thought I saw lines around her mouth. Maybe she was older than I thought. Most certainly she had to be older than me.
The screeching of the bus brakes filled the air. I glanced at the number card and saw it was the number three line, the one that went out of town. I was waiting for the five downtown. The warm exhaust-laden air enveloped us, and the door hissed open. The girl in the red dress stood up and stepped toward the bus. The dress swirled around her feet almost touching the ground. She stopped before stepping through the door and gave me a small wave. The door hissed closed, and the bus lumbered away in a wave of whines from protesting metal.
I sat and wondered how she got on with her family while I waited for my bus, watching the clouds blow off, revealing pieces of the star filled sky. My bus arrived not much later only ten minutes off schedule. I dropped my coins into the box and took a seat in the middle. In the back of the bus, a couple of tired strangers sat staring out of the windows. I sat, and as the bus pulled away, I leaned my head against the cold glass of the window and stared into the star speckled sky but could not find the moon.