For Lewis, Forever Ago."
Public transport disgusted me, the smells that travelled throughout the bus were shocking considering the door opened, every so often letting on another set of students or older ladies, men and women on their way to work or crying children with tired parents glancing off into space, an abundance of different smells all mixed together. It wasn't often I travelled via the bus, coaches and trains were much more my 'thing' considering I couldn't drive and my barely used and unfortunately pink mountain bike was miles away with two flat tires that I'd never been bothered to change considering I didn't ride anywhere any more, there was nowhere to ride to anyway. I decided then that I should indefinitely put it in the back of the moving van when I went back to Warwickshire, I might get the chance to adventure here.
I was on my way to a house viewing, hoping that it was the perfect first home to move into, I'd finally saved enough to get myself up north into Greater Manchester, where I'd wanted to live since I was around 12 years old, a child and yet deciding between the mancunian accent or Yarmouth where I could find myself walking across beaches whenever I had spare time, yet I decided Yarmouth would not only be more expensive but that it would be colder. I probably wouldn't appreciate the beach as much if I lived beside it, no; logic told me the North would be better for me, I liked the country atmospheres with short train rides to a big city. In my month after leaving work I'd found myself a new job, so thanks to my new boss' understanding "start next month" meant I would have the September month to find a place, go back to Warwickshire and return to my new apartment with all my things. It was a long process but never the less an exciting new journey for me, leaving so many people behind for a place I barely knew alone? Seemed terrifying, but its what I wanted for so long the idea consumed my terror.
I'd lost myself in my iPod classic, or rather La Dispute. It seemed to distract me from the world, the horrendous bus smell, I flipped it over and rubbed my thumb against it's silver back covered in scratches, 'battle wounds' from its 4 years of service. I only snapped back into reality when my unfocused and one blurry "I should definitely wear at least one contact lens' eye peered through a gap in my chestnut brown hair that had fallen once again in front of my face as I realised the bus had come to a halt, the doors wide open to a small group of people who were clambering on board. I felt sorry for them knowing the driver had just opened the doors and invited on a group of strangers to smell this god awful stench so early in the morning, one that would make travel sickness feel like a breeze to go through, I got that on long car drives so I would know. The buses back in Warwickshire weren't this bad, I mean there was a smell, but it was usually on every bus, common and I guess I'd gotten used to it, the seats were much comfier too, although the view here compensated for that; hills bright green with a hint of mist above them and a semi clear blue sky with the odd greyish cloud here and there, this was way better than 'home' it made me more determined to agree on a house in the next week.
I'd already seen a group of young teenagers pass by my seat on a previous stop, their giggles and excitement as well as their bags filled with what felt like bricks hitting my my arm before pushing each other into seats at the back were hard not to miss, it reminded me of my own school days, it seemed like forever ago. A young woman had slipped past me and sat a few seats back before pulling out her iPhone to pass the time, probably already updating herself on the outside world before having to deal with the people actually around her, it was really early, 7:50am, her short bob and full fringe stayed in place like it had more than enough hairspray holding it together whenever she turned her head, a fur coat wrapped around her and a face like she'd been chewing on a wasp, she definitely didn't want to be here. Someone was holding up the bus, I'd lifted my head and peered past where my fringe didn't go, chewing at my lower lip as I watched the final person frisk himself, continuing to stare due to the low yet fascinating tone of his voice. Mancunian, obviously, but it was different, understandable despite a slight mumble, fitted with a tired and sleepless face.
"Awhh fff..., nevermind I have money on me one sec."
He seemed to of forgotten his bus pass, rookie mistake. I'd presumed he was too hungover to remember to put his bus pass back into his pocket although he looked past caring at this time of the morning, I didn't really blame him.
His nose turned up the second the driver had given him his change, he smelt it too, but seemed to recognise it as somewhat familiar and proceeded to look sickened at the teenagers in the back seats shouting and jumping about, frustrated over their hyperactivity. I agreed, it was way too much for a Monday morning. I turned my head watching him walk past, his feet raising slightly too quickly after each step giving him a skip in his walk bouncing by, I did that too. His eyes were a beautiful dark brown, one that wasn't so dark that the pupil blended in but more of a golden tint, slightly squinting with a darker shadow underneath his lower lids from the lack of sleep. Definitely hungover. He sweeped a wavy fringe out of his face into the rest of his thick dusty brown hair that sat behind his ears.
He sat in the seat across from me, putting his satchel on the seat beside him, I felt almost a little disheartened that he didn't want anyone near him, or maybe he thought no one would want to sit beside him? I would of. No, he definitely didn't look like he wanted human interaction right now. I watched him lift his headphones up from around his neck and over his ears, pulling out his iPhone to find a song, he seemed to find one pretty quick due to a sudden relaxed and calmer look on his face as he sat back slouching into his seat, his foot propped up onto the knee of the other. He glanced over and saw me staring at him. Shit.
It wasn't intentional to be staring at him, well I guess it had. My panic made it seem less innocent than it originally was. I could feel him looking at me so I flicked through my iPod, hands trembling per usual, like I hadn't already looked enough like an idiot. It felt like ages had passed so I looked back up, meeting his eyes greeting mine in confusion. I smiled awkwardly and looked away again but just enough so I could still see him in the corner of my eye, I couldn't tell anymore if he was staring at me like I was him, or if he'd switched off into his own world until his lips curled up into a slight smile, his lower lip more pouty than its brother as he turned away.
I never usually stare at people, he was just oddly fascinating to watch, I enjoyed people watching, wondering the stories behind the variety of faces. There was something about this stranger that stood out to me, I couldnt decide why but there was something there that intrigued me, I felt oddly attracted to him. Maybe it was my love and adoration for bearded men, his framed his jawline and went just slightly above the top of his neck, there was a small tuft framed by his beard that sat beneath the centre of that pouty lower lip which I loved. It looked neat, one that you could brush your hand against and have it not feel like the bottom of a garden broom against your skin, infact it looked rather soft. He was tall, maybe 6ft? Broad too, not the kind of 'muscles bulging from everywhere' broad, but broad shoulders broad. He was an unusual kind of handsome, "It's the shirt and tie" I told myself, thats whats making him attractive, making me stare in awe, although that tie is a little bit wonky, my slight obsessive compulsive disorder kicking in, I really wanted to straighten it out for him.
It was like he'd heard me speak in my mind. He pulled his passenger seat satchel buddy onto his lap opening it and pulling out a cream coloured jumper from his bag that he'd tried to fold in beside a large laptop. The jumper loosened up like it could finally breathe again as he grabbed each sleeve end of his shirt, tucking them between finger and thumb avoiding that annoying and common rolling up the arm, before pulling it above his head and struggle as he forgot to take his headphones off and fell to the front of his face. He couldn't see me smiling, but I was. The jumper fit nicely around his frame hugging him, it suited considering it was pretty cold for September. He pulled the headphone cord back through his jumper and fiddled with his collar until it was placed neatly above, finally zipping up his bag and placing it beside him, he looked relaxed again. It wasn't his shirt and tie.
I'd completely forgotten about the rowdy teenagers until they scrambled off, despite the fact they were practically bouncing off the walls, I'd been too distracted to acknowledge them, the same with the woman in the fur coat, she must of snuck off whilst I was pretending to pick another song, scrolling through my ipod with a flash of artists names going through my eye sight at 100mph. I turned my music down since there was no need to cover any voices, I could still hear the sound of cars passing by, and a muffled sound of music that wasn't mine. I looked around the bus, but it was just me and the young guy sat across from me.
Madeons Ellie Goulding - Stay Awake mix, I'd finally recognised what he was listening to when my own music had faded out into silence. His foot tapped across his knee to the song but his face remained straight, silently mumbling words every now and then and tilting his head side to side accompanied by the odd raised eyebrow. He was cute, there were very light freckles placed delicately across his rounded cheeks and slightly crooked nose. I really needed to stop staring, but his face kept drawing me in, finding little things about him that made me chew my lip more in fascination. My stop was soon; very soon, but for some reason I felt glued to the seat. Telling myself to stop staring I pulled my own satchel onto my lap, searching for something, anything to help me.
I briefly scribbled against my bus ticket with an old unchewed biro I'd found in my bag, luckily it was working and writing in a rushed but neat matter, I finally placed the pen in my bag before doing it back up, clipping the opening back into place. I folded the bus ticket between my fingers waiting for the bus to stop. My head was working overtime at that second, as per usual consumed with worry and anxiety. Do I? Don't I? He's not looking he's not bothered, I'm just another stranger on this awful smelling bus that he has to put up with. I was near panic attack over a stranger who I'd felt oddly attracted to. My heart falling to my stomach. A stranger that I'd made eye contact with and recognised a piece of music that he enjoyed, what was wrong with me? If I did I knew I'd worry the rest of the day but if I didn't I'd regret it. This was my stop.
The doors opened and I walked towards them, as I saw others getting on I had a minute or two.
If he didn't care then he wouldn't reply. I quickly rushed back to see the handsome strangers eyes light up in confusion before handing him the ticket I'd received not 15 minutes ago, he looked better up close. Everything I'd noticed about him previously was clearer, more defined. He took the ticket from my hand and I smiled politely. His brows furrowed in confusion, if I knew him I'd almost be certain he was slightly pissed off at me, as he pulled off his headphones I contemplated snatching it back from him, it was too late now. My ticket between his finger and thumb just like his own that I'd watched him stuff into his pocket previously. I could feel my face burning up and an awkward smile forming, turning just as a slight tired smile formed on his own.
Relief. I walked off the bus just as the doors were closing, I turned my eyes towards him and got to see him open up my note, my bus ticket, the corners of his lips turned up, his fringe falling back into the front of his face and his eyes a little more awake reading. Seeing the handsome strangers face one more time before the bus disappeared from sight. My body turned to watch the bus drive away as I clumsily walked backwards risking walking into someone or something. I tucked my own hair behind my ear. "Smile handsome, school kids are fuckers, so are Mondays! Surely Madeon helps though? x" followed by my number.
Fuck. I forgot I'd bought a return ticket and that was it. Now I'm going to have to pay for a single again to get back and worry that I just made someone feel incredibly awkward. This house better be good, I need my feet on the ground, and a brew.
The house was perfect. Everything a 21 year old would want. One bedroom, one bathroom, large garden and kitchen/dining room as well as a decent sized front room. I was most excited about the front garden though, I knew I wanted to get myself a hammock, or one of them bench swings, I could sit out here and read all day providing it wasn't raining, place it under the tree and tidy it up, perfect, my hands shook. It was mine in 7 days.
My phone went off, a text message. Probably my best friend asking how the house hunt was going, he liked to regularly check up on me and my current status,what I was doing and if I was well. No? An unrecognisable number. The stranger? Definitely not. He probably chucked the ticket and went on with his day. Most likely Three telling me new mobile offers or Dominoes who liked to regularly text me deals. I sort of hoped so, celebratory pizza was on the cards for sure.
"Hello! Sorry I didn't text sooner, the joys of work and morning meetings! Mondays are fuckers! Did you not need this bus ticket to get home? I could return it after I finish work at the same bus stop you got off if you're still around? Lewis - The super handsome bus guy with excellent music taste x'.
How could I say no to a guy who had already made me laugh in his first text? Or more so I was desperate to know him, to hear his voice again, maybe ask if he'd like to share this celebratory pizza with me later? Maybe. I was so excited to even make a friend that I didn't even stick to the waiting a while to text back rule.
"No worries! I'm surprised you even replied at all. I was worried it might of been forward, haha. Lewis? My favourite name ;) That would save me buying another! Thankyouuuu! What time? Kirst x"