Mr. Billy and I are on the number 6 bus late on a Friday night, heading home after a play. Across from us, in the backward-facing seats, is a man and a woman. They're both wearing headphones.
She is looking out the window at the passing city. Her hair is pulled back in a bun. High, aristocratic eyebrows and composed mouth.
He looks vaguely in front of him. He's tall and loosely strung, large, freckled ears. One giant paw holds his iPod, the other holds his phone, each at the ready. In case. His mouth is open, like he'd been stunned by a bright light.
I'd assumed they were a couple, but as the bus trundles out of downtown and up Haight, I see they never once look at each other. I wonder if they know each other at all, if maybe, complete strangers on the bus, they are feeling the bare contact of thigh against thigh while looking away, denying the flirtation, their bodies exchanging lustful heat entirely against their will.
I look up at Mr. Billy, but when I look back, her head is on his shoulder. A couple, then. Still no words, no change in his expression or hers.
The bus is nearly empty, a lighted capsule in the speeding dark. We've passed the Masonic and Haight stop, where most of the passengers heave themselves from their seats and out to the street; our couple remains.
She's lifted her head from his shoulder and is looking out the window again. Not once have their eyes met, not once has one even tried to look at the other.
Suddenly she gets up from her seat, skirts neatly around the man's long legs, and is waiting near the door, her deep eyelids lowered as she gazes coolly at the floor.
He stays as he is, stunned face, devices held out in front of him like the reins of a horse, until the bus stops, and he's up and out on the sidewalk beside her, the bus rolling on; I'm unable to catch more than a glimmer of her legs beneath her pencil skirt in the dark, and then they're gone.